So, it’s not exactly a secret that Japanese women have the highest average life expectancy in the world, but recently the British tabloid, the Daily Mail – and Japanese news outlets by proxy – latched onto a new study basically comparing Japanese women to immortal witches, with the news outlets implying that the “standard” Japanese woman’s diet is the key to long life and again succumbing to the idea that all East Asians are magical.
Setting aside the seemingly automatic and pretty racist Western belief that any “oriental” practice is akin to wizardry (see: accupuncture, herbal medicine, bowing, etc.), the inherent flaw in the Daily Mail‘s conclusion is that it equates the diets of Japanese women who have died recently of old age with Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, who have vastly different eating habits.
With McDonald’s first Japan location opening in 1971 and ushering in a continuing era of runaway fast food consumption, modern Japanese women (and men) suffering from a notable sweet tooth, and average sizes of a single serving of rice having ballooned even while average overall rice consumption falls as Japanese people eat more bread and other carb sources, it will be impossible to tell what the modern Japanese woman’s diet does for your health for decades to come.
The big takeaway here is that, while it’s definitely true Japanese women consume, on average, fewer calories than women in many other countries, it’s a myth – as we’ve covered – that modern Japanese consumption habits are some kind of wonder diet, and all you have to do is walk down a Tokyo street to know that the Japanese love fast food, bread and sweets just as much as people in Western countries.
The truth is, obesity and heart disease are a global epidemic and the Japanese haven’t dodged a public health bullet by sticking to some mythical Feudal-era diet of rice, fish and green tea.
Anyway, enough serious talk. Next time on TokyoDesu: Let’s be honest, probably something fart-related.
Feature photo via Wikimedia Commons