Saturday’s Washington Post had a surreal yet instructive piece on the uproar in France over — get this — the jogging habits of recently-elected President Nicolas Sarkozy. According to some top French “intellectuals” (and a disconcertingly large number of their devotees), strenuous exercise is “undignified” and thus unbecoming a public official. What’s more:

The Sarkozy jog … is a sad imitation of the habits of American presidents, and a capitulation to le défi Américain (a phrase that was the title of a book published here as The American Challenge).

Aside from the absurdity, what’s most interesting about all this is that France has recently experienced a sharp increase in its obesity rates. Could the upswing be a result of this obvious and pervasive bias against jogging and exercise? Maybe. Rates of physical activity closely track with rates of obesity. So if the average Frenchman thinks the Tour De France is just one big faux pas on wheels, he’s probably not hitting the gym to burn off those calories from the infamously fat-laden French diet.