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A new and potentially alarming trend has emerged in Japan, one that might have as much to do with growing numbers of overweight people as the recession.
The phenomenon is becoming more noticeable, both on and off the grid. According to a study conducted by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, some 40 percent of the 15- to 17-year-old high schoolers surveyed had gained “10 or more kilograms” between 2011 to 2015. In a country with a population of about 127 million, that equals around 13,000 students. This was followed by the survey finding 41.5 percent of high school seniors (average age about 17) experienced weight gain in their last five years.
The data, which was collected by the Health Promotion Organization, is particularly concerning as it suggests rising rates of obesity might be leading to more cases of malnutrition among children, and may have implications for Japan’s economic growth.
The researchers found that the number of overweight schoolgirls was on the increase, despite the fact that Japan’s population is growing at a moderate pace. In 2010, for instance, the number of kids overweight or obese amounted to about 5,000, or about a fifth of Japan’s total. But in 2014, the total number of children were estimated at about 47 million, or 1.17 percent of Japan’s population.
The Ministry claims that by 2025 there could be up to 50 million more high school students and about 2.4 million more obese students.
The situation worsened further since the 2010 election, said Kyodo News. In January and February, the number of students reported to be overweight rose by 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, according to estimates from the Ministry’s Health Affairs Research Institute.
The ministry has launched a five-year mission to eliminate the trend and to raise awareness. It has started a project to help low-income families with child care.
It is unclear whether other countries have been subject to the same trend. As with other nations, there also seem to be signs of greater obesity among young people in Japan, and this could influence other nations’ economic growth as well.
As noted in an article published in the January 2015 edition of Health
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