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Okinawans losing their edge on famed longevity

Date Posted: 2003-01-10

According to an article in Jan. 13 issue of Newsweek magazine, Okinawa has still the highest proportion of centenarians among its population in the world, but it is not going to keep that distinction for long.

The article cites several scientific studies that conclude that the reason for the longevity has been the traditional Okinawan diet that is based on plenty of vegetables, tofu and unpolished rice supplemented by pork and fish. But it goes on saying that as the diet has rapidly westernized, mostly during the 20-year American occupation after the WWII, the occurrence of diseases and ailments that plague America and other western societies has also increased.

Okinawan men have already lost their status as the number one in longevity and stand now at the 27th place among Japan痴 47 prefectures. Okinawan women still live longest, but the gap is rapidly narrowing.

The article says that alarmed by the trend, Okinawan officials are staging campaigns urging people to embrace traditional diets and life style. It also exhibits an elementary school in Naha City that has changed the school lunch menu almost completely to traditional foods.

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