If you’ve ever been Japan,
you may have noticed that it’s really hard to find an
obese Japanese person. In United States, it’s quite a different story.
The rate of obesity among adults in America is on average around 30 %
whereas the Japan obesity rate is only 3.5%.
But what makes the weight of people in these two countries so different?
“Why Japanese people?”
At first, I was thinking about things like…
Japanese people drink a lot of green tea
and they get a decent amout of fermented foods
like kimuchi or nattou which is great for the gut microbiome.
But in this video I want to focus on the very simple yet key point about Japan.
The food environment is drastically different from the US.
As of 2017 there’s over 243,000 Fast foodestablishments in America.
There’s only 6,169 establishments in Japan,
meaning per person, there’s about 15 times more fast food restaurants in America.
话说回来 在日本 快餐 油炸食品 薯片
Then again, in Japan, fast food, fried food, chips,
巧克力 糖果 汽水 这些不健康的食品
chocolate, candy, soda, and not so
healthy things are still available wherever you go.
But there’s a huge variety of equally convenientreasonably healthy food.
Let’s say I’m the average busy person in the states who would like to be healthy
but doesn’t have time to cook at home.
What’s for breakfast?
Most people’s options are limited to things
like a McGriddle with Hashbrowns and coffee,
or maybe an Egg and processed Cheese sandwich
with tater tots at Dunkin’Donuts, or some
pancakes at Denny’s if you have more time.
Surely some people have more healthy options,
but I’m trying to think of what most people are going to have access to.
So what’s a quick breakfast in Japan?
While there’s more than 6000 fast food establishmentsin Japan,
there’s also 5000″rice bowl” establishments.
The big ones are Yoshinoya, Sukiya and Matsuya.
And for 4 dollars at Sukiya, for breakfast
you can get Plain Rice, Miso Soup with Seaweed,
an Egg, baked fish, and a small potato salad comes with it.
如果我特别饿 我可能会多花4美元 要一些泡菜 纳豆还有炖牛肉
If I’m extra hungry maybe I’ll add some kimchi, fermented soybeans and stewed beef for 4 more dollars
Or, you can put together a reasonably healthy meal from a convenience store.
At a Japanese convenience store,
a rice ball which is just rice, salmon and salt, a small salad,
或是一份寿司 或是味增小鱼干 或是味噌汤
or a package of sushi, or a thing of fish with miso, or some soup
I was pretty impressed with how little junk is in this.
it’s basically just vegetables,pork and fish broth.
And there’s a bunch of different foods like this
比如日本青豆 煮鸡蛋 沙拉 烤鱼 煮黄瓜 炖猪肉
-here’s what I can get for under 10 dollars USD.
Compare this to what’s available in American convenience stores,
they usually limited to fried foods sitting under heat lamps
或满是反式脂肪酸 糖 防腐剂和不健康添加剂的食物
or foods loaded with trans fat, sugar, preservatives and unhealthy additives.
If you’re lucky you might be
able to get a package of plain nuts with nothing added.
So the items in Japanese convenience stores are not top quality health foods,
but they’re not bad.
This is big because practically everyone has access to these places, convenience stores
like these are everywhere.
Japan has about 55,000 convenience stores
meaning there’s about 10 times more convenience
stores per square kilometer in Japan comparedto America.
For most, these places are in walking distance.
I understand that of course there are healthy restaurants here and there in America and
you can make a really healthy meal with ingredients from the supermarket.
但是 一般便宜 方便 快捷的食物
But when it comes to cheap, convenient and quick food –
it’s almost always quite unhealthy.
In Japan, for a quick lunch,
I can go to burger king, or right next
door I can get some sushi.
I can get a Hamburger and some Popcorn at Vandalism cafe,
or I can go next door to Matsuya and get a bowl of spicy tofu soup
有少许牛肉 大葱 卷心菜的辣豆腐汤
with a bit of beef, green onion and cabbage,
一份猪肉 一个太阳蛋 一些芥末菠菜
some pork, a soft boiled egg, some mustard spinach,
rice and there’s free pickled ginger to go with it.
And of course there are many healthier non-chain places
that offer many different types of cuisine, and this variety is important.
It’s going to be much easier
to stick to healthier options if you aren’t getting bored of having to eat the same things at the same places over and over.
Even if you’re going out to drink with friends at dinner time, there’s still a variety
of good food choices.
The standard place to drink at is an izakaya –
at 10,000 establishments, there’s almost
twice as many izakayas as there are fast food places in Japan.
Replacing fast food for alcohol is not a good strategy,
but let’s see what one of the common izakaya chains have to offer in theway of food.
Let me point out one more time that there’s
of course much better quality food than what
you get at convenience stores,
rice bowl chains or izakayas and this is not what most Japanese people eat on a daily basis.
I’m not really recommending these places either –
Most Japanese people wouldn’t think of these places as “healthy”. But,
this isn’t about optimal health.
I just mean to point out
that even someone who puts minimal effort into being healthy
can get some reasonable quality meals out of these very convenient places.
By the way, what’s everyone drinking withand between meals?
In America, more often than not it’s soda,
considering a survey of 80 countries found
that America comes in at rank # 1
for soda consumption at 170 liters purchased per person in 2011.
Japan came in at rank # 56 at 32 liters per person.
In Japan most places serve tea with your meal
for free and in general it’s harder to purchase massive quantities of soda –
there’s no comically large big gulps at seven eleven,
I haven’t seen these packs of soda here,
and Japan has the smallest “ large ” cup size at McDonald’s –
An American medium size drink is bigger than a Japanese large.
Another factor to thank for keeping people’ssoda intake low is again: variety.
What’s interesting is despite Japan drinking 5 times less soda than America,
soda is available in vending machines everywhere in Japan.
There’s 5.52 million vending machines,
meaning there is a vending machine for every 23 people
in Japan – that’s the highest vending machine per capita on the planet.
So what’s in these vending machines?
Why don’t we take a look at this vending machine I came
across on the side of the road
in the middle of nowhere in Hakone.
Among other things, They have black coffee, Six different types of unsweetened tea and water .
A typical american vending machine offers 13 varieties
of drink, the only non-sweet one being water.
So convenience and variety – simple, but itmakes a difference.
It’s easier to pick the healthy choices when they are just as easy and convenient
as the unhealthier choices.
Now this is by no means the full story
on Japan and health, but I think these are two key factors.
I’ll be doing another video on some
of the many other things that contribute to health in Japan,
so if there’s a particular point you want to hear discussed, leave a comment below.