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Cars, foods blamed for the Okinawa longevity decline

Date Posted: 2008-01-24

Pundits are calling Okinawa’s declining longevity records the result of “the seduction of car life making Okinawans fat and lazy.”

Okinawa, once the epitomy of long life, has slipped in the ratings, and the prefecture has been tagged by some “The Island of corpulence”. Obesity is increasing, life expectancy dropping for both men and women, and exercise seems to be something locals fail to embrace.

The automobile is being blamed for everything, as Okinawans drive everywhere instead of walking or using Okinawa’s imperfect public transportation system. Officials acknowledge that the lack of public transportation makes it difficult for people to get home, particularly after long nights of eating and drinking.

The Prefecture Monorail Section says the number of cars on Okinawa roadways is increasing at a rapid clip, by about 2.3% each year. Every family on Okinawa, it says, has at least one car. People use cars even to go to the supermarket, researchers say, and note people won’t walk or take a bus to work or to recreational activities. Local communities are establishing healthy lifestyle programs, but officials say they’re not being heartily embraced.

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