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The notoriously slim men and women of France achieve their slender figures by ignoring nutritional values and taking the focus away from calorie counting, a study has shown. Canadian research has proven that Americans are much more likely to know the calorific content of day-to-day ingredients than the French.
The obesity rate in the United States is three times higher than it is in France, yet when asked about the number of calories in servings of butter or milk 43% of the time the French participants were unable to even guess the correct answer. Americans however, gave a fairly accurate response all but 4% of the time.
The study was undertaken by scientists at the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada and the researchers put together a comprehensive questionnaire to determine the differences between the nationalities’ attitudes towards calories and nutritional values.
Professor Maurice Doyon from Université Laval said: “The difference among respondents' knowledge essentially indicates that the French don't take much of an interest in the nutrients contained in the foods they eat. The information is on the package, but they don't read it.”
The French were also unaware of the government’s guidelines regarding the recommended daily intake of saturated and unsaturated fat. Americans, on the other hand, were aware of the suggestions for a healthy diet, which indicates that a person’s knowledge of nutritional values may in fact have a negative impact on the healthiness of their eating habits.
Despite the results of the study, Professor Doyton has noted that other factors are also at play, including cultural differences in the attitudes towards food, such as higher quality ingredients and more balanced diets in France, compared to a convenience food-orientated culture in the US.