In the same search I found that in some quarters the 'French Paradox' doesn't hold up, however that appears to be due to alcohol and cigarette use which just shows that when they do copy our bad habits then their health suffers too.
What I'm more interested in is how their lifestyles seem to leave them at far lower risk of heart disease and obesity (source:OECD health data) while being known for some of the best and most indulgent food on the planet.
I don't have all the answers yet. I posted this article as a beginning of this topic so I can add to it as things become apparent.
My understanding is that while the French have a true appreciation of great food and the joys of life they also understand the need for balance and moderation. It's fundamentally more than just diet, it's about the way they live and their approach to living. They don't like to rush around and get things done ASAP as we often do in the UK or US. They prefer to live life first and get things done as a consequence. They like to savour moments as they come along. This means things like having dinner with the family at the table. They may have alcohol but that's because they take their time to eat they don't rush.
I believe they're working culture is more family oriented and less driven on deadlines. I believe that's the kind of lifestyle that helps them have fewer heart disease and obesity problems. They don't eat the high fat food they're known for all the time or in great quantities however they do have a little of what they want and when they do they take the time to enjoy the moment however long it lasts.
I say I believe all this cos that's the point of this article. Over time I want to see if that's actually true or just a myth. It's becoming apparent that while the Japanese were looked upon as a healthy example, over time as they adopt more western lifestyles they are increasing less healthy. Or could it just be down to differences in each countries welfare state? since this should have a big impact on quality and length of life.