Japanese children are the healthiest in the world – and here is what they are doing differently 9 months ago

Japanese children are the healthiest in the world – and here is what they are doing differently

We might have started pushing quinoa as a rice substitute and hiding bits of beet in the kids' blueberry smoothie, but we are still a long way off the Japanese when it comes to children's health and nutrition if the results of a new study is anything to go by.

According to The Lancet study, Japan is paving the way in having the world’s healthiest children with the highest healthy life expectancy. If these stats are to be believed, Ireland didn't even make the Top 10 when it came to suggested life expectancy, with countries like Singapore, Andorra, Iceland, Cyprus, Israel, France, Italy, South Korea and Canada all beating us to top spots.

Japan won out, with an overall life expectancy of 84 years. And both Japanese males and females are expected to live to 73 without any major illness or disability getting in the way of their healthy lives.

According to the main authors of the study, Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle, “The way Japanese people eat and move gives them a major longevity and health advantage.”

So what can we learn about raising healthier children from the Japanese then?

“Compared with other developed nations, Japanese people on average eat fewer calories per day, and in a healthier pattern: more fish, more rice, more vegetable products, less meat and dairy, smaller desserts and more reasonable portion sizes,” Doyle explains.

And apart from portion sizes, Moriyama also notes that the Japanese have better restraint than most developed nations. The Japanese enjoy pizza, ice cream or chips from time to time, but the portions are smaller and less frequent inside the house. (In other words; the don't get Domino's every Friday!)

Another reason why Japanese children top the list as the healthiest in the world? Exercise is simply a part of daily life, to a much larger extent than is the case for our children these days. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 98 per cent(!) of Japanese students walk or bike to school.

What do YOU think? Are we setting our children up for a life of laziness by our increasing reluctance to get from A to B on foot? Should there be more pressure on Irish parents to leave the car at home for the school drop-off? Share your thought with us at Trine.Jensen@HerFamily.ie