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Okinawans no longer in top spots for longevity

Date Posted: 2005-01-13

Five years ago, Okinawans led the world in longevity.

Today, Okinawa’s fallen to 27th place in Japan’s 49 prefectures. Men used to be the epitomy of perfect living, but no more. According to the Prefecture’s Total Health Union, half of Okinawan men 50-60 years of age are too fat. The report says men age 50 had fat average of 50.4% in 2003, while those age 60 were measured at 50.25%. The survey studied 88,000 people.

Girls age 20 measured the best, with fat levels of only 9%. Boys the same age were 17%. As ages progressed, women continue to maintain lower fat levels, with those age 50 measuring 31%. Women age 60 gained another five percent fat. Women lost fat as they headed to age 70, dropping to 20% or below.

Officials say today’s lifestyles, and eating habits in particular, are responsible. They attribute a decline in exercise to fatness as well. The fat drives up illnesses, the report says, causing earlier deaths.

“All prefecture citizens have to go check their weight and health,” the Prefecture Total Health Union says. “We must change from the current foods life to macrobiotic foods that we had a long time ago. Somehow, food lifestyules have changed to the American or European ways, with high calory foods being popular.”

Another reason for the increased fat levels, and lower live expectancy, is that men in their 50’s and 60’s eat outside a lot, and don’t eat home cooked foods together with their families. Officials say older men also don’t seem to care about their physiques like young people do.

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