Actually, French Women Do Get Fat

Overweight man over map of Europe
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Los Angeles Times bids adieu to the so-called "French paradox" - the envy-inducing mystery that allows French people to enjoy "rivers of red wine, more than 300 varieties of cheese, patisseries full of buttery desserts, and still manage to maintain a low rate of heart disease and obesity."

It's over. The fat lady is singing. And she's French.

The paper reports that French people are suddenly getting fatter, as they are moving away from the concept of food as a luxury to be eaten in modest quantities. Already 42 percent of the French population is overweight or obese. Although that's still nowhere near America's 65 percent, it's growing fast. The rate of obesity among French young people has quadrupled in the last 25 years, rising almost as quickly as the rate in the U.S.

The French are looking more like Americans because they are living more like Americans. Goodbye shopping at outdoor markets. Hello processed foods. Goodbye two-hour lunches. Hello cramming a sandwich in your face at your desk as you scroll through e-mail. Goodbye savoring. Hello snacking.

Most shockingly, French women (and it is still mostly women) not only don't have time to cook anymore - they've forgotten how. At a recent Weight Watchers meeting, a bunch of ladies who battled an hour of grinding Paris traffic to make it there after work were unable to identify a measuring spoon.

The problem comes with all the typically American accessories, from bigger MRI machines in hospitals to accommodate obese patients to soaring profits for sellers of cellulite creams. And the biggest sector of the French fashion industry to grow since 2000? Not haute couture, but the plus size market.

Marriage's Shelf Life Shrinks Again

Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, as the American waistline continues to expand, the length of the American marriage is shrinking.

The New York Times reports that more than half the Americans who might have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversaries since 2000 were divorced, separated or widowed before reaching that milestone, according to new census data.

The new data marks the first time since World War II that men and women had a less than even chance of being married 25 years later.

The new data also shows that the percentage of people who celebrated their 15th anniversary has declined. About 80 percent of first marriages that took place in the late 1950s lasted at least 50 years. Among people who married in the last 1980s for the first time, only 61 percent of the men and 57 percent of the women were married 15 years late. Among currently married women, non-Hispanic whites were the only group in which a majority had market their 15th anniversary.

"This seems to be saying that more recent marriages are more fragile," said David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a marriage research advocacy group.

The one constant in all this seems to be the so-called seven-year itch. Couples who separate still do so after an average of seven years, and divorce after an average of eight.

Cities Disconnecting Free Wi-Fi Plans

Remember all that techno-utopian talk a few years ago about how more and more cities were planning to offer free wireless internet service for everyone? The plans seemed so reasonable, fair and civic-minded - a way of leveling the economic playing field for the poor, distributing information instantly about city services and, of course, making the not-so-poor folks' iPhones work better. It seemed too good to be true.

Well, actually, it was too good to be true, USA Today reports. Almost all of the plans to blanket the nation's cities with low-cost or free wi-fi service have been delayed or abandoned because they are "too costly and complicated," the paper reports.

Chicago put its proposed network on hold because it couldn't reach an agreement with service providers after offering free use of street lamps for radio transmitters in exchange for a network built, owned and operated by providers with no cost to the city.

San Francisco hoped to offset the costs of its free service with ad revenue, but that plan's stalled for the moment too. So are proposed plans in Houston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, the Silicon Valley and Springfield, Ill.

One wireless networking expert said the plans will never work because they are "too complicated."

I guess "too complicated" is the polite way of saying "not profitable enough for networking companies."

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