Obesity isn’t just an American problem. We often think that we are the sole carrier of the torch, but it’s a global problem. Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, and Greece are only a few countries that have overweight rates (a BMI greater than or equal to 25) nearing the 70 percent mark, according to the World Health Organization.
Japan isn’t just “the Land of the Rising Sun”… but health care costs as well. The country is taking extreme measures to curtail expenses. The thing that is confusing is they are near the bottom of any list I see ranking overweight countries (by BMI). They are 163rd on the World Health Organization’s list of overweight (22 percent of the population).
Nevertheless, Japan’s health care costs have ballooned by 68 percent between 1989 and 2006, to $370 billion a year. Without doing a thorough analysis of everything that may be causing this increase in cost, maybe 1 in 5 people being overweight is enough for government officials to take action.
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The Japanese are known for some pretty off-the-wall game shows. Some are just weird, some unexplainable (maybe something lost in translation), but they are all interesting for their sheer wackiness.
Something else that I find myself a little lost on is a new Japanese weight loss plan. Metaboinfo.com has a pretty unique way to help you keep your eye on the prize – a virtual wife that will nag you to stay on track. I’m not sure if they offer nagging husbands for the ladies, which if not, would seem strange since most dieters are female.
The free service offers you one of four wives to choose from (and name) – a giggly maid, a cold businesswoman, a loving nurse, or a fashionable nail artist.
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This morning on the Today Show, they discussed how three countries manage to stay fit and trim, while eating decadent foods. Japan, Italy and France are far fitter than the U.S., which ranks as the heaviest country in the world (sharing the #1 and #2 positions with Mexico).
So how do they do it? The general rule across all three of these countries: portion control. America lives in a super size world, and we’re about the only ones who do. Can you incorporate their eating methods into your diet?
They eat smaller amounts of protein. Their meals focus on fruits, vegetables and grains- and let the meat act as a side dish. The Japanese derive a lot of protein from soy sources. They also eat clear soups prior to a meal- which is filling and makes you less likely to over-indulge at meal time.
Again, smaller portions are the rule of thumb here. They eat smaller amounts of better quality food. So they are satisfied in both the amount they’ve eaten, and the flavor. The French also use a smaller sized plate than Americans.
The Italians also serve smaller portions at their meals. A standard serving of pasta is about 5oz., versus the 10oz. or more typical here in the States. Olive oil and red wine are common fare at meal time- they also eat the grapes and olives whole, which are good sources of antioxidants and good fatty acids.