This is Japan. The country with the highest life expectancy in the world, with an average of about 83.7 years according to the World Health Organization. It is also home to the healthiest children in the world, mainly thanks to the traditional diet of Japanese families that has withstood the test of time. Of course, there will always be threats to a healthy lifestyle since more fast food companies such as KFC and McDonald’s have entered the Japanese market.
Still, parents in other countries can glean some useful information from the Japanese on how to provide a healthy meal for their children, while being able also to practice restraint and how to keep the children active without having to switch to using chopsticks!
So, how come Japan has the lowest prevalence of childhood obesity on earth? Several studies have been published citing that a child born in Japan today will have a “longer, healthier life” compared to a child born in any other country in the world. It is no secret that the country has always had a unique approach to diet and exercise.
With obesity being one of the most challenging health problems in the world today, especially among children, Japan is able to manage this problem. This is because every household and school in the country promotes a certain kind of discipline puts more emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables while cutting down on foods that are rich sugar and in saturated fats such as meat and dairy.
Besides this, as children are taught from a young age how food is grown, prepared, and eaten, they are able to appreciate its value and are more likely to develop healthy eating patterns. One thing that can be learned from the Japanese approach to developing a healthy eating lifestyle for children is to immediately remove those sweet temptations from the cupboards and fridge, and enjoy such foods only occasionally when eating outside.
The way food is served is also a key factor in the development of healthy eating habits. Instead of serving food in courses, each person is given a small bowl of rice along with other dishes such as vegetables, fish, meat, or miso in moderate sizes. This allows children to sample various kinds of food in portions they can manage to eat, and it is easier to feel full while eating fewer calories.
A healthy diet alone will not get you there: physical exercise is just as important. Another secret to why Japanese children are so healthy is that instead of taking school buses to get them to school, they walk to school and back every day. Thanks to the very child-friendly environment in Japan, parents don’t need to worry too much about the dangers of meeting scary strangers.
Just by walking to school every day, many children are able to engage in at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Aside from it being healthy, the schools have also emphasized that the school walk learns children how to socialize in larger groups. But for parents who find it impossible to let their kids walk to school, there are alternatives that you could think of to engage your children in physical activities, like having them participate in sporty after-school club activities that are very common in Japan.
What do you think, might adopting these Japanese habits help kids all over the world overcome the obesity epidemic? Or would it not fit in the modern lifestyle in other parts of the world?