|Young Women Too Thin, Says Japanese Medical Society|
|Monday, 17 January 2011 09:18|
The Japan Society of Adult Diseases has issued a stark warning about the trend amongst young Japanese women to lose weight to unhealthy levels. At a Society academic meeting, held in Tokyo on January 15-16, Professor Hirohito Sone of Tsukuba University, a specialist in endrocrinology, metabolism and diabetes, warned that widespread undernutrition was damaging to health in the long term, and may be related to the increase in low birth weight babies being born in Japan.
"Many young Japanese women are simply too thin. This is as much of a threat to public health as obesity", commented Professor Sone.
According to Professor Sone's research, the average woman's BMI begins to drop sharply around 18-20 years old, averaging at around 18.5. The National Health Service in the UK gives a BMI of 18.5 as the lowest score in the healthy weight range (18.5-24.9); anything below this indicates undernutrition.
"It's a phenomenon unique to Japan", says Professor Sone. "And biologically speaking it's very unnatural".
Prolonged undernutrition can lead to serious health problems, including osteoporosis. It may also be linked to the increase in low birth weight babies seen recently in Japan. Professor Sone also points to worrying psychological factors, including low self esteem and an obsessive desire to lose weight.
In the UK, the size zero debate continues, with questions being raised as to the appropriateness of the way women are portrayed in the media and in advertising, creating an unrealistic impression of ideal weight and beauty. The same thing could well be happening in Japan, where overweight celebrities are often derided, albeit lovingly, for their 'fatness' on television, despite being well below the threshold of what we might call 'fat' in the UK.
Are Japanese women too obsessed with dieting? Is it the fault of Japanese celebrities? It's an issue that the whole world needs to keep an eye on.