Why is the obesity rate in Japan so low?

From inexpensive yet greasy happy meals to cheap convenience stores filled with snacks your parents forbid you from eating because they’re ‘filled with too much sugar, the U.S is known for its vast range of fried, processed, sugary, and fatty foods that some only dream of eating. However, some may not know that these easy-to-access processed foods are the cause of the adult obesity rate in America being over 40%. Whilst the U.S is known for its popular fast-food chains, Japan is popular for its well-balanced meals, drink, as well as snacks. You may know of their famous sushi rolls, which found their way into American cuisine, that can be filled with any kind of fish or seafood, or veggies, which is a great source of protein. Their healthy lifestyle and easier-accessed, healthy foods are the reason for their country having the lowest obesity rate. Compared to Japan, the U.S has a lot to learn food-industry-wise in order to keep their citizens healthily stable.

Sushi is a well-known Japanese dish that is typically served as small balls or rolls of vinegar-flavored cold cooked rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables, or egg.

The food industry’s promotion of highly processed foods and foods lacking nutritional value plays a big role in the issue of obesity. The grocery gap (when lower-class citizens are not able to access healthy foods because of the prices) also feeds into the problem of obesity, especially since pre-packaged processed foods are much cheaper and easier to access. The promotion of unhealthy foods increases the risk of obesity percentages to continuously grow since it makes these processed foods easier to access, whilst healthier foods are more expensive and difficult to access. These processed foods are cheaper for companies and brands to produce, manufacture and package, so they promote these foods for their own benefit rather than considering the health risks their consumers could be facing. Consumers are negatively affected the most because of the health issues that result from the consumption of large quantities of unhealthy and processed foods.

An advertisement for a collaboration with the famous rapper, Travis Scott, and Mcdonald’s for their $6 Travis Scott Meal.

Considering the high percentages of obesity amongst the adult population in the U.S, the food industry does a great job in promoting and marketing fast food, especially with cheap deals to offer. The U.S takes advantage of low-income citizens by promoting cheap yet heavily processed foods and also puts these cheap foods on the shelves of popular convenience stores. Many American vending machines would offer unhealthy processed foods and sodas that contain a high amount of processed sugars. Popular sodas and snacks like Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Cheetos, Doritos, Poptarts, etc, fill the shelves of vending machines around America as well as convenience stores. Unlike convenience stores in the US, Japanese convenience stores offer a large range of foods with nutritional value. Instead of fried foods, french fries, chips, and candies, they offer salads, rice balls, sandwiches, etc. They also offer a large range of healthy drinks when it comes to vending machines on the streets. Japan took the initiative to offer drinks like Japanese tea and many others with no sugar. An average person in Japan consumers fewer calories than an average American person daily due to the fact that they have more access to, also because of the fact that food fast chains aren’t constantly promoting these processed foods. Japanese diets consist of high consumption of veggies, fish, soybean productions, and low consumption of animal fat, meat, and dairy.

Instead of offering fatty and processed snacks in their convenience stores, Japanese convenience stores often offer well-balanced bento boxes.

The topic of the food industry in itself relates to the obesity rate because of the continuous cycle of cheaply manufactured foods being sold to citizens across America, which allows companies have an advantage of earning money while risking the health of their consumers. Many foods with a high nutritional value from foreign countries are more expensive for companies to purchase and be delivered out to the U.S, so they turn to cheap ingredients that are easy and faster to produce. Due to the cheap production of these processed foods in the American food industry, more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese. Some Americans struggle to broaden their access to foods with nutritional value because of their low income, which results in turning to cheap foods that lack nutrition. However, Japan limits the promotion and advertisement of fast food and promotes healthier food choices by offering a vast range of foods in these convenience stores and supermarkets.

In order for the obesity rate in America to decrease over time, the promotion of processed foods as well as cheap deals advertised by fast-food chains would have to be limited to the public, and the access to foods containing high nutritional value would have to be increased in order to give low-income households a better advantage to improve their lifestyle. Promoting healthier choices in grocery stores and convenience stores can help influence citizens to live a healthier lifestyle like those in Japan. Although we cannot control the personal lifestyle choices of the people in the U.S, giving more access to healthier foods and preventing the constant promotion of fatty, sugary, fried, and processed foods is the first step into lowering the high obesity percentage in America.

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