Japanese 2nd in world life expectancy


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and yet they smoke more than almost every other country and have dirty air and seas. It shows that diet means more to life expectancy than anything else.

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

Is there any data to support this diet theory?

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

This current generation won't live as long as the previous.

They dont have the same diet at all.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Is there any data to support this diet theory?

it is called "common sense"

smoke more, live longer = a child can see that

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Japan's social stability is supported by cheap medical fees. Medical expenses are largely covered by the government at 70% for people under 70 and for people age seventy and over at 90%. If you go to a hospital, you will find many old forks there. They feel happy they can go to a hospital without worrying about expenses. They feel happy they can live long owing to their merciful government. If the system fails, the government will easily fall.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japan's medical system, with all it's shortcomings and pitfalls, is as far as the costs are concerned, light years ahead of the United States. Right now we're wasting our time arguing and fighting over replacing a crappy medical system, with another, and possibly even crappier medical system.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I have one theory live in hot place

Avoid showy plea or rainy place.

No smoking no alcohol.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Relative to my home country I notice the diet is much better here and people are a lot more active in their daily lives (walking a lot more). Also Japan came out on top of a study of obesity (least obese) while the U.S. and New Zealand were the most obese. Finally as many people mentioned the health care system here (and yes it does have pitfalls) is pretty good and accessible to nearly all of the population.

@Toshiko - as for smoking and alcohol I can say that kind of contradicts the study as in Japan people drink and smoke quite a bit.

I have been in Japan 2 decades and probably will stay. This is one reason. With all of Japan's faults it ranks higher than the U.S. in things that matter (lower crime rate, basic education level much better, infant mortality lower, access to health care better, violent crime much lower, etc.)

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Not just health.... Mortality rates. Japan has one of the lowest Infant Mortality Rates in the world. Basically more children make it past the age of 1 in Japan than the USA by a factor of 3. In addition, Teenage mortality rates in Japan are exceptionally low too. Yes... diet and exercise is a major factor... not debating that, but mortality rates up to the age of 30... are very low in Japan. That is a reflection of a safe society and an extremely good healthcare system especially when it comes to infants.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

thepersoniamnow's comment is spot on.

The people enjoying longlife now were born in the 1920s & 30s.

They experienced the brutal hardships of the pre-war, war and post war periods.

They ate more simply and meagrely. They worked hard. Generally in their formative years they did it tough.

If anyone believes that the current bubble / post-bubble generations with their far-from-traditional diets, decades of smoking by the majority and a far greater sedentary/passive lifestyle will see them automatically reach very old age as a kind of birthright are not seeing the wider picture.

Medical advances and govt systems and high tech help for sure, but the longest living communities in the world - the so called Blue Zones - are all in some parts, the anti-thesis of modern urban living.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe longevity will be found in a drip or bottle of capsules or a laser scalpel, but the holy grail is probably right before us and most are yet to see it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan, HK, Spain, France, Cyprus etc not a single anglo nation.

Coincidentally (or not), all anglo nations have similar obesity rates i.e 2/3 of their population are either overweight or obese. Noone's going to make me believe that a country like Cyprus or even Spain has a better healthcare system than Oz, the UK, NZ or even SA and the us. If you eat cr*p (and a lot) all your life, drink a fair bit and don't exercise much chances are you're going to die early, good healthcare system or not.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I love it when you guys look at current centenarians and then say it's proof the lifestyle of those born under them don't have any effect on lifespan. Parents are burying their kids these days (or cremating them), especially in Okinawa, as the toll of post WWII lifestyles start taking effect. Japan will continue to slide on the world stage, and in a couple of decades not even rank in the top ten.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

It shows that diet means more to life expectancy than anything else.

Actually, the longest life expectancy in the world is in the principality of Monaco. But as it is technically a country, it is considered. Having spent time in Monaco, I know that the people there like to eat, and eat a lot. Visit the farmer's market there, you'll never see bigger and more beautiful fruits, vegetables, or other foods (which still cost much less than ordinary food items would cost in Japan).

Japan's longevity comes partly from diet, and partly from exercise. You average working Japanese will walk and climb as many stairs on one day as you average American will in 3 or 4 days. Think about your own commute. How far to the nearest station? How many stairs? How far from the station to your office? Then think about how you get around on your days off, you probably use public transportation and/or get around on foot.

In other developed countries, people drive, even for short distances. On my typical work day in America, I would walk to the driveway, get into my car, drive 15 minutes to my office, park, walk into my office, and work. The end of the day was the reverse. The most walking I did was when going shopping on my days off.

In America almost all shops and stores are single-level structures, with no stairs. And multi-level buildings are required by law to be wheelchair accessible, meaning elevators and escalators. In Japan, my old office was on the fourth floor, with no elevator, my favorite sushi restaurant is on the third floor of a building which has no elevator. In a single day in Tokyo, I can climb more stairs than I climbed in a year living in America. Even a small amount of exercise can add greatly to longevity.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Where is S. Korea on this list? I recall reading an article recently that female S.Koreans would push into the top position within a few years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't think the reduced suicide rate will have had a significant effect on the figures. The number of suicides has dropped by about 10000 since its peak of over 30000 a year. Assuming generously that each person would have lived another 50 years if they hadn't committed suicide, that's 500,000 extra years of live. Divide by 125,000,000, roughly Japan's population, and you get 0.004 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's not forget these statistics refer to a lifestyle that started some 70+ years ago, long before the 'fast food' generation. I have no doubt these statistics will change as the baby-boomer generation starts to age in the next 10-20 years or so. While it is true that the 'base' Japanese diet is quite healthy and Japanese tend to eat a third less than Americans at meal times, the lifestyle has changed dramatically from 70 years ago. There is much more stress and people are working much longer hours. You can also add the addition of saturated fats, salt and sugar people are consuming from fast foods and, smoking of course.

One thing missing from thing article is, the breakdown of longevity in each city or prefecture in Japan. Okinawa has the greatest longevity and Tokyo has the least, closely followed by Osaka. People living in countryside areas are the ones with the longevity while the cities are the killers. This tells you that, as Japan's population increasingly moves to the cities the longevity rate must drop.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Maybe longevity will be found in a drip or bottle of capsules or a laser scalpel, 

Well clinical trials for age reversal drugs are only now getting underway so we will see in the next few years. If 60 or 70 year olds could repair DNA and rejuvenate their organs to feel like 30 again it would be as revolutionary and popular a treatment as antibiotics.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smithinjapan - yes, it's a good example of confirmation bias. They see the centenarians but not all the people who died before them.

Disillusioned - in fact the increases in longevity in Britain have recently ground to a halt, so Japan is getting something right if lifetimes are still increasing. Less convinced about the city/countyside difference though. Hong Kong is very highly urbanised and more crowded and possibly more stressful to live in than Japanese cities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There are a lot of things to criticize Japan for, but basic physical health is not one of them.

I have three kids and I don't see many overweight classmates, in spite of any changes in the modern Japanese diet. Monbusho tests point to today's kids getting weaker on average in athletic ability, but they don't seem to be getting much fatter. That is a huge issue in the West.

I read that life expectancy is actually falling for middle-aged working class men in the USA. For a country with high GDP per capita, that should be scandalous.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Seeing as HK is a city state where it would be impossible to scale to a nation of 125 million, you can safely say Japan has the best life expectancy in the world for a highly populated nation, even taking into account the city states

0 ( +3 / -3 )


Long-term habits - eating/exercise.

Good health care that is used.

There are clearly important genetic settings in certain groups of people that lead to long lives. That goes towards attitudes too handed down via genetic settings.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Disillusioned: "One thing missing from thing article is, the breakdown of longevity in each city or prefecture in Japan. Okinawa has the greatest longevity and Tokyo has the least, closely followed by Osaka."

Again, you're only looking at Centennarians, while you are correct about the implied hard of city life and its stresses vs. inaka. Okinawa only has the highest longevitiy average because of the current list of elderly, many of whom have seen their children die from diseases that were never present in the family history because, in large part, as sangetsu touches on, all they do is drive around from place to place, and eat a terrible diet compared to the current crop of seniors. I guarantee that aside from some of the smaller islands, where life is a little slower, Okinawa is going to plunge in longevity rate within the next 20 years. Better technology and health care will still see people living into their 70s and even 80s, but you're going to see a large drop in people living to their 90s and past 100.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

dcog9065: " can safely say Japan has the best life expectancy in the world for a highly populated nation..."

Rather than viewing it as a contest with winners and losers (and you do say "best longevity", not by coincidence), it's best to glean what you can from it, and learn how to try and improve your own life and possibly extend it, with quality of life to boot. Look at what the ladies in Hong Kong are doing and try to learn from it. Also look at traditional Japanese diet and lifestyle habits vs. the current salary-man habits that have seen diabetes and cancers increase, etc.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I would also add good old fashioned family values in Japan. Have you noticed that there are hardly any gang activity in Japan. It's always a great feeling that you can walk almost anywhere at anytime here without much trouble. The transportation here is great and I love walking and riding my bike for great exercise. The natural (not fast food) Japanese food here is excellent, and I always love having miso soup with vegetable and rice with tamagoyaki. Yes, it might feel like lunch in the US, but it's a great source of energy in the morning. And finally, there's the peace of mind of good national health insurance without going bankrupt.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A combination of factors, such as low infant mortality rates, diet and exercise lead to longer lifespans in Japan. Yet when I go to the supermarket these days it's not unusual to see people with a basket full of instant noodles. Maybe they won't get fat eating that rubbish, but it surely can't be good for them.

Things also seem to be going downhill in other countries. There are so many fat children in the UK I will be astonished if lifespans continue to increase there for much longer. I've seen lardy ten year olds with bigger breasts than my wife struggling to walk up a gentle incline.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was wondering how average life expectancy is measured. Presumably it's not just based on the average age of death in any year. The WHO has a page that explains the methodology they use. (I don't know if the figures in the article use the same method.) Anyway, this is included in the explanation:

"For interpolation of mx values for annual periods 1985, 1986, .....2015 we used piecewise cubic Herite interpolating polynomials (usually referred to as PCHIP). This has the desirable property that he piecewise cubics join smoothly, so that both the interpolated function and its first derivative are continuous. In addition, the interpolant is shape-preserving in the sense that it cannot overshoot locally; sections in which period mx is increasing, decreasing or constant with time remain so after interpolation, and local extremes (maxima, maxima) also remain so." 

Now you know.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan's medical system, with all it's shortcomings and pitfalls, is as far as the costs are concerned, light years ahead of the United States. Right now we're wasting our time arguing and fighting over replacing a crappy medical system, with another, and possibly even crappier medical system.

Thats why all the most important surgeries for wealthy folks all over the world travel to The U.S.A. for treatment. Granted major surgery is very expensive in the states, however the chances of a full recovery are much greater.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese 2nd in world life expectancy

Unfortunately for the political life in Japan....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Genetics cannot be discounted:

The greatest predictor for a long life, at least in the study, is walking speed. The head researcher doesn't believe it is in the blood, but there are lots of other markers in other cells.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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