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Okinawa stays on top of longevity statistics

Date Posted: 2002-09-14

It’s a well-known fact that Japanese have the longest average life-spans in the world, and among Japanese, Okinawans live longest. A 13-year study started in 1990 found that every year Okinawa has the largest percentage of centenarians in the population. According to the study by the Ministry of Health and Welfare published Monday, there are 17,934 people in Japan who are aged 100 or more. 84 percent of those are women. Compared to the statistics at the beginning of the study, the number of centenarians has increased 4.3 fold over the past 10 years. That translates to 14.1 per 100,000 as a national average. The number of centenarians in Okinawa is 2,459. That is 39.5 per 100,000, or about 2.8 times the national average.

Many researchers have made extensive studies as for reasons for Okinawans’ longevity, and almost everyone have come to the same conclusion; a combination of a balanced diet of healthy traditional foods, amicable weather and laid-back lifestyle ensures that people stay healthy and live long. However, some researchers are worried that the changing taste of younger generation, increasing intake of processed foods and meat will inevitably erode the famed longevity of Okinawans.

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