The 'French Eating Model' characterised by structured meals and conviviality has received little attention, although it has been suggested as a potential explanation of the French paradox. This study aims at assessing the adherence to this model in French adults and whether it is associated with weight status. Eating behaviour and, in particular, number of meals per day, snacking frequency, meal time, meal duration, number of courses, position (standing, sitting), presence of others and pleasure experienced was assessed in 2014, in 47 219 participants of the NutriNet-Santé study. A global score of adherence to the French Eating Model was computed on the basis of eating behaviour components. Prevalence of the model was assessed on a sample weighted according to Census data. Associations between adherence to the model (and its components) and overweight and obesity were assessed using logistic regression analyses adjusted for individual characteristics. Most individuals followed the French Eating Model: three meals a day, at set times, sitting at a table with other people and considering meals as a moment of pleasure. Individuals who exhibited higher adherence to the model were less likely to be overweight (OR=0·89; 95 % CI 0·87, 0·92 or obese (0·76; 95 % CI 0·74, 0·79). Similar trends were found for the following components: number of meals per day, snacking frequency, meal time, meal duration and pleasure experience, whereas an opposite trend was observed for the eating with others component. Although prospective studies are needed to conclude on a causal relationship, these results suggested the potential role of the French Eating Model, which is still prevailing in France, in obesity prevention.
Keywords: CU consumption unit; Cross-sectional studies; Eating behaviours; French Eating Model; Overweight.