On the other hand, Frenchwomen are the smallest in Europe but worry the MOST about their size.
This could be due to the fact that French men pressure their women to be thinner but British men, to their credit, like their women the way they are.
The BMI index measures not just weight but also height. British women have, by a fair distance, the biggest bodies in Europe, with an average BMI of 26.2, yet their size doesn't seem to worry them.
French men are also the smallest Europeans, and British men are the third biggest, behind the Greeks and the Finns.
British women don't mind being Europe's biggest (it's French females, the slimmest, who worry most about weight)
By David Derbyshire
25th April 2009
British women are the most overweight in Europe - but are also the most comfortable about their size, a study suggests.
French women, meanwhile, are the thinnest, yet worry more about being fat than those in any other EU country.
The findings highlight both massive differences in the weight of men and women across Europe, and how countries' attitudes to obesity vary.
Curvy British actress Kate Winslet (top) and petite French star Audrey Tautou: The study found French women, the smallest in Europe, worry most about their size and British women, the biggest in Europe, worry the least
In France, the proportion of thin women has long been the highest in Europe.
Around 6.7 per cent of French women are dangerously thin.
According to the most recent statistics, French women also have Europe's lowest average Body Mass Index - the measure of weight that takes into account someone's height.
Yet when researchers asked women about their 'perfect' weight, they found French women were still unhappy - and aspired to the lowest weights in Europe.
Around half of all thin French women are convinced they weigh too much, the study found.
Dr Thibaut de Saint Pol, a researcher at France's National Institute of Demographic studies, believes women are under intense pressure from French men to be slim.
'If a French person who feels fat were to go to the United States, he probably wouldn't feel fat any more,' he said.
In other European countries, the opposite was true. The number of women in Britain, Spain and Portugal who see themselves as skinny outstrips the number who actually are.
A BMI is revealed by dividing someone's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared. A BMI below 18.5 is regarded as dangerously underweight, a BMI over 25 is overweight while a BMI over 30 is clinically obese.
France is the only country where women and men are solidly in the 'normal' weight bracket and the only one in which more than 5 per cent of women are underweight.
French women have the lowest BMIs in Europe - 23.2 on average.
British women have the highest with 26.2, a level regarded as overweight. Italians have the second lowest BMIs, followed by Austrians, Germans and Danes.
French men also have one of the lowest BMIs. British men are the third most fat, behind Greece and Finland.
However, men appear far less bothered about being overweight, regarding being skinny as a greater worry.
'Men denigrate their own bodies when they are underweight, but when they are overweight, they often don't see a problem,' said Dr de Saint Pol.
'When women are underweight, they do not devalue that at all. But as soon as they cross the line into overweight, they find that unacceptable.'
The study was published in the institute's newsletter, Populations and Societes.
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