Why is it so Easy to be Thin in Japan?

Why is it so Easy to be Thin in Japan?


If you’ve ever been Japan, you may have
noticed that it’s really hard to find an obese Japanese person. In the 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 amount of fermented foods like kimuchi or nattou which is great for
the gut microbiome. But, in this video I want to focus on a 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 food
establishments in America. There’s only 6,169 establishments in Japan,
meaning per person, there’s about 15 times more fast food restaurants in America. “Why macudonarudo?” Then again, in Japan, fast food, fried food,
chips, chocolate, candy, soda, and not so healthy things are still available wherever
you go. But there’s a huge variety of equally convenient
reasonably 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 establishments
in 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. 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 I can get
a rice ball which is just rice, salmon and salt… a small salad, 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 – here’s what I can get for under 10 dollars USD. Compare this to what’s available in American
convenience stores – they’re limited to fried foods sitting under heat lamps 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 compared
to 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. 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
with a bit of beef, green onion and cabbage, 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 the
way 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 with
and 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’s
soda 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 it
makes 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.

100 thoughts on “Why is it so Easy to be Thin in Japan?”

  1. I've definitely noticed this phenomenon as an exchange student in Tokyo! I'm not very confident with cooking yet, so I eat convenience store food more often than not, and I don't get the same gross lethargic feeling as if I were eating US fast food that often. I can even get little salad packs for 100 yen each.

  2. almost the same in East Eu, hopefully we never adopt the Western diet. There are mcDonalds, Kfc everywhere but they are not the main thing. I personally can detect a Macdonalds from 100m – they all smell like spoiled pig fat…
    Not to mention also how much cheaper is the food here, yet healthier

  3. The "american style fast food" phenomenan has spread to other asian countries like Singapore Malaysia Indonesia India etc and we Asians can see the negative impact on our health. We need to have healthier options like Japan!

  4. well…well….well. what can I say..but

    Rock n Roll McDonald's
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    Rock n Roll McDonald's
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    Rock n Roll McDonald's

    my work here is done

  5. I just got back from Japan and let me tell you… a lot of people there walk! I was putting in at least 15k steps everyday! I went to Disney Sea and took 30k steps that day. It's crazy! They practically burn off what they just ate.

  6. They eat better than Americans. Sushi and seafood is what they eat. Americans are over here eating 2,000 calories just from McDonald’s.

  7. It's a question of culture and positive policy, something that lacks in US but also in Europe where I live (maybe a bit better but not much). Junk food promotes healthcare earnings. Really unethical

  8. this channel: its easy to get rhin i japan!!!

    me, who has visited japan: so how and why did i gain weight from my visit?

  9. I eat like crazy and love every kind of unhealthy foods but never gain weight. I think most of Asians hardly gain weight and not because of what they eat and how much they eat.

  10. My mind: I have made up my mind I shall and I say it again once I have finished college and have enough money I WILL move to Japan and somehow learn Japanese…

    Also me: that’s to much thinking where 13 and super cringy we can’t learn Japanese your struggling with Spanish and your MEXICAN stfu

  11. Dude, for breakfast just eat oats with honey and milk. Lunch: ryebread with whatever you want (but no: nutella, chocolate, peanut butter, jam etc.) snack: Just eat a banana. Dinner: anything homemade thats not super unhealthy. And thats how you easily eats healthier in the everyday. AMD its super easy and cheap.
    Btw. You americans do know that all your food is like 5x the size of food EVERYWHERE else in the World?.

  12. When there’s mc Donald’s where you can get 20 chicken nuggets for 3 dollars and a cheeseburger for like 2, and then the healthy places with a salad for 12 to 16 dollars like ah ain’t no one doing that.

  13. Yesterday we had McDonald's and I said to my mom,"the older I get, the more fake McDonald's tastes like." It tastes like plastic

  14. 1:56 ok, mais ce sont les memes ingredients, ils sont seulement assembles differement.
    honnetement je ne vois pas de differance.

  15. All what you said and the fact that obesity in Japan is frowned on so much that the majority of obese people either don’t leave their house out of fear of humiliation and ridicule, or they commit suicide (one of the highest rates in the world). It would be safe to assume that even skinny people in japan feel the effects of that pressure. I imagine a guy would step on a scale see he gained 5 lbs and get a little panicked. Pretty harsh and judgmental culture.

  16. In the Philippines, fast food and convenience stores and home cooked food places are abundant and everywhere. Feels like if american and japanese food environment had a baby.

  17. Yeah but who wants dried cod for brkfst. Say what you want about America and our eating habits but our food is tasty that's why everybody's so fat. Lol.
    Not gonna change….no I'm not!

  18. There are very few vegetarian options available in most countries except India. How do i travel like that. If vegetarian is available it's way too expensive.

  19. Part of it is genetic, but one thing to note about obesity in the states is that it is environmental. America has only recently become this fat. I lost 70 pounds in China after living there for six months without even trying.

  20. And this people.. if you REALLY want to get thin just go to Japan.

    This is also why I’m definitely moving to japan when I’m older and less poor

  21. I’m convinced that Japanese people are shapeshifters from when they’re 9 to when they’re 16
    Somehow after the age of 9 they just become skinny. I don’t understand how they do it.

  22. America tries to get us fat with fast food and cheap things and processed food then we go to the doctor the rest of our lives breaking bones and giving them money for pills the rest of our life

  23. Skinny /= healthy – since the obesity rate is so low I’m really curious to see the other side, how many people are under weight in Japan or looking at how much nutrients they’re actually getting

  24. There are more fast food restaurants in America because it's like 20 times bigger than Japan. You couldn't fit all those restaurants onto that tiny island.

  25. I’m otaku and haft army because like japan 🇯🇵 some reason I wanna stay in for while, traveling to visit in Korea🇰🇷 that’s why I love ❤️ traditions Asia

  26. I don't know how many times I said I'm not Interested in my recommendations…… Fuckin fiiiiiine yt, I'll watch it……..

  27. Also, the woman are considered fat if they are over 110 pounds in a lot of places. That’s why some clothes are one size. (Super small)
    Body shaming and other opinions are surprisingly common in some places. A lot of women look waaay too thin as a result.

  28. It's criminal how here in the U.S., it is near impossible to purchase quick/easy healthy foods like you can in Japan. I guess until Americans change their demands in food, this will remain unchanged.

  29. Japan has the Machiavellian approach. Support most the basic care of your subjects, and the harder they will work for you.
    America just wants us fat and diabetic. Makes no sense even from an evil point of view.

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