What the U.S. could learn from Japan about making healthy living easier

Despite its variety and availability of food, Japan’s obesity rate is 4.5%, significantly lower than the U.S’s 43%, revealing cultural differences that suggest ways to make healthy living easier.

The food factor: Japanese food, while diverse and easy to access, typically has high freshness quality.
* Soba noodles are made to order, and mouthwatering sushi and curry rice are sold on train platforms.
* Japan also emphasizes on quality and preparation over quantity in their food production.

Lifestyle and design: A cultural emphasis on health and longevity, and a “default design” baked into daily life, greatly contribute to a healthier diet in Japan.
* Heavy reliance on public transport means people are more likely to walk more and get more exercise, figures shown by a documented week-long trip in Tokyo.
* Convenience stores in Japan sell fresh, perfectly portioned ready meals, with sell-by labels time-stamped to the minute.

School and nutrition: School lunches form an early cultural understanding of healthy eating among the Japanese.
* They are free, scratch-made, balanced, and treated like a nutrition class where kids serve each other food, help with clean up, and are encouraged to eat everything they’re given.

Challenges: Despite these healthy lifestyle designs, Japan is not immune to industrialized and ultra-processed food trends driving up obesity rates worldwide.
* Excess weight is a growing concern in Japan as well, however, the population remains remarkably resilient against these global trends.

Conclusion: The design of American life could learn and implement from the Japanese cultural emphasis on health, longevity, and freshly prepared food in order to promote a healthier lifestyle.

View original article on NPR

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