“We can only provide information on how to lead a healthy life,” Health Ministry official Shigefumi Nakano said Friday, referring to a report on the ministry’s Web site. “The rest is up to the individual.”
There’s a concept, huh? The context is that the Japanese are failing to meet health and fitness targets set by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.
The ministry’s 10-year plan also measures awareness about the health impact of activities such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
While Japanese are becoming more conscious about how lifestyle affects health, many still do not get enough exercise, the ministry report said.
Of course, Japan is a rich society, so people are taking in an increasing number of calories that are for pleasure rather than subsistence. Partially because everything is so expensive and partially because dainty portions are valued culturally (well, everywhere except ramen shops), you tend not to be served the great mountains of french fries or chocolate cake that you would be in the States, but it’s not hard to believe that people are getting somewhat fatter and lazier. That said, there’s no shortage of nutritional information available. The food labeling here is as good as it is in the States. And Japan has the same magazine articles, news and talk show segments, and advertisements extolling the benefits of fish and whole grains and green leafy vegetables that you’d see elsewhere in the First World, too.