Britain tops fast-food league, as world obesity grows
Famously gastronomic French are the least attracted by quick meals, according to a study
LONDON, January 3, 2008 - Britons are the world's biggest fans of fast
food, just ahead of Americans, while famously gastronomic French are the least
attracted by quick meals, according to a study published Wednesday.
The survey of 13 countries also confirmed growing concern over obesity
worldwide, but noted different priorities and strategies in different parts of
the world for tackling it.
"People are inherently contradictory and nowhere is it more obvious than on
such a sensitive and important issue as their weight," said Steve Garton of
polling body Synovate, who produced the survey jointly with the BBC.
"The results show there's a world of people who cannot deny themselves that
hamburger or extra piece of pizza, but probably make themselves feel better by
washing it down with a diet cola."
In terms of fast food, 45 percent of Britons agreed with the statement "I
like the taste of fast food too much to give it up" ahead of 44 percent for
Americans and Canadians at 37 percent.
The French, long proud of their reputation for high-class cuisine, strongly
disagree: 81 percent rejected the statement, followed by 75 percent of
Singaporeans and 73 percent of people from Hong Kong and Romania.
"Britons love their fish and chips," said Garton, while Synovate's head in
France Thierry Pailleux underlined the different Gallic perspective.
"French people take care of their image as a matter of course. Being thin
is part of our culture and a point of pride," he said. "On top of this there
is increasing awareness of the devastation obesity can cause to one's health."
Overall the obesity problem is fuelling increasing concern worldwide --
although some are more concerned than others.
Fifteen percent of French people and 12 percent of Americans weigh
themselves every single day, while at the other end of the spectrum only 15
percent of Hong Kongers get on the scales once or more every week.
In terms of how to shed weight there are also different strategies.
Globally most people say cutting food intake is the best answer, followed
by 43 percent who do more exercise.
But there are regional variations: 57 percent of Americans, 56 percent of
French and 54 percent of Britons cut down on food to shed pounds, while 14
percent of Malaysians opt for herbs and supplements to cut their weight.
People in the Middle East seem to combine all strategies: Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates are among the top users of low-fat products and meal
replacements, but also gym memberships and home exercise equipment.
Lisa Cooney of the World Cancer Research Fund voiced concern over Britain's
results in the study.
"The news that fast food is so popular here is worrying, as fast food is
often energy-dense and tends to be consumed in large portions," she said.
"We recommend that people only eat fast foods sparingly, if at all, to help
prevent becoming overweight. This is because being overweight increases your
risk of a number of types of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases."