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Health in Japan

Ewa Nowogorski

 

National healthcare is provided for all Japanese citizens and residents. It is very affordable and easily accessible. Japanese people take great care of their bodies. They watch their diet carefully, with Japanese people having some of the longest lifespans and lowest BMI out of any other race.

 

Health is of course important to look and feel good, and more emphasis is placed on diet and preventative care than anything else. Drugs are not so casually prescribed and even cold medicine is significantly weaker in Japan than in the USA, to the point that it might not have any effect at all. The most important thing one can do when sick is rest and sleep.

 

Japanese women nowadays have the longest healthy life expectancy in the world. There is a lot of pressure for women to be fit, thin and youthful, so they take extra care and consideration into what they put on and into their bodies. Many will restrict their diet in terms of what foods they eat or how many calories they consume. Eating until 80% full is a common ideology many people have. It might be restrictive, but it in return does make one healthier.

 

Japanese people also take good care of their health because it is easier for them to acquire weight-related illnesses. The BMI cut-point for a healthy body weight is 25.2 in the USA, while it cuts off at a much lower 23.0 for Asian countries, including Japan. This is because Japanese people are at higher risk of developing diabetes at a lower BMI than Americans.

 

Waistline is also correlated with weight-related disease. After you turn 40 in Japan, you are required to have your waistline measured as part of your yearly medical health exam. The upper limit is 33.5 inches (85cm) for men and 35.4 inches (90cm) for women. When a country has a huge aging population and not enough young people to pay into the pension system, it is vital that the population remain as healthy as possible so as to not increase the costs of medical care. In Japan it pays to be healthy.

 

Weight and health is something that is openly talked about amongst Japanese people. It is not impolite and even normal to ask people about their weight and even throw in seemingly harsh comments, like “you gained weight, haven’t you”. People, even though they desire to be thin, are not offended by being called fat. If anything, it inspires them to become healthier and to try and lose weight.

 

I do believe in health, and since Japanese people are smaller they will naturally weigh less, but I do not think the Japanese idea that “thinner is better” is a good one. They seem to reject the notion of “healthy” and just desire “thin”. Some women and men will go to great lengths to achieve a certain weight, such as barely eating anything everyday for days on end. Most people would opt to reduce their caloric intake drastically than keep it the same and increase physical activity instead.

 

In the end, however, Japan is winning the longevity game, so they must be doing some things right.

 

 

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