Term Paper: Japanese Live Longer Than Americans?

Pages: 10 (2734 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Historical Figures  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] "It is a staggering fact," she writes, "that in the last decade, soda eclipsed coffee and tap water combined as the American beverage of choice." (Akst, 2003)

Though there is consumption of soda pop in many other cultures including Japan, the numbers in the United States are staggering. The simple removal of 50-60% of the consumable sugared, caffeinated and carbonated drinks in the United States would surely increase longevity.

The health problems which plague developed nations are much more prevalent, at younger ages within the United States than in Japan. "The major health problems in the developed countries now are the 'diseases of affluence'-diabetes, coronary artery diseases, and hypertension (Wilkinson, 1997)." (Keigher, 1999, p. 243) The rate of obesity in the United States is a significant outgrowth of the diets, which we consume, and some would say a symptom of the diseases which plague us.

Aggregate food consumption data provide little evidence that Americans moved toward a healthier diet during the 1990s despite implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and public nutrition education efforts (Putnam and Allshouse 2001). That consumers did not meet year 2000 public nutrition objectives (Public Health Service 1991) despite improvements in information warrants a more thorough exploration of the reasons consumers consider and value nutrition. (Huston & Finke, 2003)

Despite nearly countless attempts, beginning as early as the turn of the 20th century, to create social and personal responsibility for health through diet and health education and information availability American's are still consuming far to much of all the wrong things. (Orser, 1994, p. 69) As a general rule the consumption of almost anything is acceptable as long as excess is avoided. This can be proven by the health and diseases statistics of one of the fastest growing sub-population in the United States, Asians, which are on the rise. (Keigher, 1999, p. 243)

The urban nature of Japan and the speed at which she has developed, post WWII has always influenced the standard of social eating and fast food is a part of that and has ben for a long time, yet the recent global changes may negatively reflect the general health of the food which is consumed quickly in Japan.

Fast foods have a long history in Japan, and continue today with new and old forms, each having its own meaning and place in this fast-paced, hard-working society. The introduction of McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and domestic restaurants like MOS Burger have clearly effected, and reflect, changes in the Japanese diet and eating behaviors (Watson 1997:6). (Traphagan & Brown, 2002)

Though there is significant reason to believe that the introduction of such things may be enough of a sideline that the overall health of the diet of the populous of Japan will continue to represent through higher longevity in Japan. (Traphagan & Brown, 2002) Longevity is such an important aspect of the culture of Japan that the leading research organization on longevity is located in Japan. (Ozawa, 1999, p. 9) Even the eating disorders associated with the disproportionate availability of unhealthy foods as it compares to the ideal body size has begun to plague the Japanese culture and obesity is on the rise. "The rate of obesity is currently lower for Japanese compared to Americans but is increasing among Japanese (Somucho, 1995)." (Mukai, Kambara & Sasaki, 1998, p. 751)

Globalism will likely cause countless challenges to cultures, as can be seen in many more examples than simply diet and health as it relates to longevity, yet it seems that this single issue should be much more closely detailed in the scientific body of nutrition research. This research must take place before globalization, of largely westernized ideals begins to more seriously alter the manner in which individuals all over the world eat and maintain their health. Within this body of research there should be a serious attempt at isolation of causation within diet differences between those who are living longer in each nation and comparisons should be extensive.

Changes in the manner in which American's eat are not going to be sweeping and foundational, as more and more people buy ideals that are incongruent with health and continue to consume high caloric, high fat, and low nutrition diets, yet the realization that the intense technology of medical care will not continue to increase longevity without drastic changes within the eating habits of the culture. Once the changes have been made within the culture these things may be a mystery but like so many other things the drive of a consumption culture will no doubt continue to cause the a relative decline in the average longevity of those who live in the great consumer market of America.

As long as profit and politics continue to drive the forces of the food industry in America the changes will never be broad. The appeal of fast food and unhealthy flashy consumables will likely speared across the world before it actually shrinks in the United States. Yet, maybe with the wisdom of these other cultures and the relative response time to derogatory changes associated with global dietary changes will come home to the consumer in America.

References

Akst, D. (2003, Summer). Cheap Eats. The Wilson Quarterly, 27, 30+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

CIA World Fact Book, 2003, "Japan," "USA"

Hopper, G.R. (1999). Changing Food Production and Quality of Diet in India, 1947-98. Population and Development Review, 25(3), 443. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Huang, J. (1995). Structural Disarticulation and Third World Human Development. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 36(3-4), 164+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Huston, S.J., & Finke, M.S. (2003). Diet Choice and the Role of Time Preference. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 37(1), 143+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Keigher, S.M. (1999). Reflecting on Progress, Health, and Racism: 1900 to 2000. Health and Social Work, 24(4), 243. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Mintz, S.W., & Tan, C.B. (2001). Bean-Curd Consumption in Hong Kong. Ethnology, 40(2), 113. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Mukai, T., Kambara, A., & Sasaki, Y. (1998). Body Dissatisfaction, Need for Social Approval and Eating Disturbances among Japanese and American College Women. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 39(9-10), 751. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Murphy, S. (2001). The Global Food Basket. Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, 16(2), 36. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Orser, C.E. (1994). Consumption, Consumerism, and Things from the Earth. Historical Methods, 27(2), 61-70.

Ozawa, M.N. (1999). The Economic Well-Being of Elderly People and Children in a Changing Society. Social Work, 44(1), 9. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Penrose, E.F. (1934). Population Theories and Their Application: With Special Reference to Japan. Stanford, CA: Food Research Institute.

Quinlivan, G., & Davies, A. (2003). Ethical Development and the Social Impact of Globalization. International Journal on World Peace, 20(2), 39+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Roberts, P. (1998, March/April). The New Food Anxiety. Psychology Today, 31, 30+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Robine, J., & Saito, Y. (2003). Survival beyond Age 100: The Case of Japan. Population and Development Review, 29(1), 208+. Retrieved February 10, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Soshitsu, S. (1998). The Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu (Morris, V.D., Trans.). Honolulu: University… [END OF PREVIEW]

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