Move your behind!
The ministry of health wants to get the French moving.
France has been preoccupied lately about the rising national weight and a depreciation in people’s general health from lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. So they have launched a campaign to convince people to move their derrières a little more often. A healthier population means less funding poured into the health department, n’est-ce pas? Yes!
I feel their campaign is slightly flawed, or if not flawed, it is slightly unrealistic for a couple reasons.
BUT FIRST let’s see what the ministry of public health has to say about health, weight and physical activity norms:
A study, on physical and sedentary activity, by Anne Vuillemin, Hélène Escalon, Claire Bossard, published in the Baromètre Santé 2008 by inpes (institution national de prévention et d’éducation pour la santé) finds that « Out of the totality of the subjects aged 12-75 years old who were questioned for the study by telephone, 62.6% of these individuals are a normal weight, 28.3% are overweight and 9.1% are obese *17 (*17. The norms of the International Obsesity Task force (IOTF) were used for people aged 12 to 17). In the 15-75 age group, the distribution of physical activity according to the context varies in function of body size » …
« In the 15-75 age group, 49,3% feel their weight is normal, 44,5% estimate themselves to be overweight and 6.2% feel they are too thin. But the level of physical activity doesn’t appear to be significantly different according to ones body image. Even if the differences are not large, the amount of time spent doing a physical activity tends to be higher for people who find they are of a normal weight (149 minutes per day) than for those who who see themselves as too thin or too fat, these people declaring an equivalent amount (130 minutes per day). »
« Physical activity in the workplace is the most common source of activity, but this percentage passes from 43.5% for individuals who have a normal body size, to 50% to people who are overweight and 54.3% for people who are obese. People who are obese tend to claim less physical activity in their leisure time (14.8%) and more physical activity linked to commuting and getting around (30.9%). Indeed, for subjects of the study with a normal body size, leisure and commuting represent around 28% of their total physical activity. These proportions are respectively 23.5% and 26.5% for individuals who are overweight. »
NEXT let’s examine their campaign posters and signs :
These signs are scattered around town, and I have to admit that when I first saw them, I assumed they were to help out the tourists (although for tourists they can be mighty helpful!) there are in fact to get people to walk more often. This is, in my opinion the most practical and realistic part of the campaign. But mostly for it’s orientation help. But I do admit, if I had to chose between a stuffy, stressful 2 minute bus ride, and a brisk 10 minute walk, I’d probably opt for the walk (unless I was late of course, which many Parisians often are). 😉
These posters (at the top of the post & below) that can be seen around town are a little more far fetched (pun intended) in my opinion, and here are the reasons why I find this campaign, although well-intentioned, somewhat unrealistic for the general population :
According to this image, all of this person’s habitual activities are within walking distance that is less than a half hour. Most people don’t live that close to walk to work or school in 10-20 minutes. SOME people live that close on the metro, but a large majority of people have an average 30-45 minute commute by public transportation, which could easily translate into 1-2 hours of walking.
As far as the market is concerned, yes there are many withing a few minutes by foot, but with rising food costs, more and more people are forced to go farther from home to find the less expensive large supermarkets.
Friends’ homes and cafés may certainly be found in your own neighborhood and thus withing a few minutes walking, but mpst people, at least the Parisians, that I know have a much longer commute time in transportation, than this poster says by foot.
In oder for this concept to be more realistic and adaptable, central housing in city centers needs to be more affordable for the general public, if we want the general public to lose weight and be more active. The neighborhood commerces « commerces de proximité » also need to be more affordable; for Paris this isn’t too much of a problem for many neighborhoods, but there many mini-marts that open up where the local specialty food shops were (the fish monger, the butcher, the cheese shop) and major market chains are gobbling up the food business… The major market chains certainly have low prices and great ad campaigns to get shoppers in their doors, but the disappearing specialty stores promote a more balanced style of eating, shopping, cooking, and interacting with the community. The rise in supermarkets also gives rise in consumption of pre-packeged, industrial foods, that help augment the problems of obesity and poor eating habits.
So, you would think that this « bouger 30 minutes par jour » campaign would be effective in aiding the national weight and health issues, it may be feasible for a SMALL percentage of the population, and may raise awareness on how much exercise individuals get but as far as effectiveness, but well, we’ll have to let the campaign run it’s course (hahaha) to see how well it helps lower the country’s cholesteral levels.