by Ewa Nowogorski
I suppose that in today’s society, the commonly accepted definition of health is directly correlated with weight. The thinner you are, the healthier you supposedly are as well.
But that is far from the true meaning of what it is to be healthy, as there are plenty of skinny people who are incredibly physically unwell, and visa versa.
Japanese people are generally thought to be some of the healthiest people in the world with one of the longest lifespans by country worldwide. And this statistic does hold some credibility to speak for their health. Japanese people are indeed healthier than most Americans. The typical Japanese meal is high in variety and low in fat, while it is the opposite for American meals. However, Japanese people do have a lot of exposure to western foods as well, so their diets tend to be similar. The only difference is that Japanese people do a better job at portion control than American people. Because of portion control, Japanese people can stay slimmer while eating the same foods.
But we should also take a look at other indicators of physical health, such as diet related diseases. The most prevelant one is heart disease, and according to some statistics, about 170,000 people die every year from heart disease in Japan. In the US, that number is 659,000. Even after taking population size into account, the US still has more people dying from heart disease. And as we all know, heart disease stems from a fatty diet.
Now lets take a look at the opposite. What happens if your diet is nutritionally poor? You will have muscle atrophy and weak bones. Osteoporosis is another sign of poor physical health. You might be shocked to learn that over 15 million Japanese people suffer from osteoperosis, while only 10 million Americans suffer from the same disease. While Japan does indeed have an unusually high ratio of elderly people to young people when compared to the US, the number is still surprisingly high. At the sacrifice of calories, there is also a sacrifice of other essential nutrients needed for a strong body.
So while Japanese people tend to appear healthier on the outside, they still do have their own health problems, and are not necessarily healthier than American people.