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Okinawa reputation changes from longevity to obsesity

Date Posted: 2006-06-23

Okinawa has long been known as the land where people live to very ripe old ages.

Thatís changing somewhat, and while women are still living longer than those anywhere else in Japan and much of the world, the fate of men is dying. Literally, the longevity of Okinawa males has nose dived from best to 26th out of the countryís 47 prefectures.

As if thatís not enough, new reports from the government are saying Okinawans are fatter than Japanese elsewhere. Itís particularly true in men and women over 30, and obesity is generating multiple cases of increased blood pressure, blood sugars and body fat. Okinawa men are at the top of that negative list, with women in a close race for second.

The Okinawa government is scrambling to force a turnaround, creating programs that promote healthier lifestyles. The problem, says a medical doctor, is that society has caught up with Okinawa. Fast foods, fatty foods, western foods and fried foods are heading the take-away lifestyle now sweeping Okinawa.

Okinawaís traditionally healthy diet, which included foods such as seaweed, goya and black vinegar that promote health, are being shunned by the younger generation.

A recent study shows Okinawa has, per capita, more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than any other place in Japan. Doctors say caloric intake is about the same all across Japan, but that Okinawans are stuffing themselves with three times the amount of fats as elsewhere in the country.

Translated, that means lots of deep fried and stir fry foods loaded with saturated fats.

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