Asian Life Expectancy
Asian health issues have been getting a lot of buzz lately. Last week DiseaseProof blogged about the problems BMI measurements have giving accurate bodyweight accounts for Asians. The post includes this section from Eat to Live in which Dr. Fuhrman talks about the differences between the standard American diet and how the Chinese eat:
The Chinese [living in China], who on the average consume more calories, are thinner than Americans.1 In China the calorie intake per kilogram of body weight is 30 percent higher than in the United States. The Chinese eat about 270 more calories per day than Americans, yet they are invariably thin. Exercise cannot fully explain this difference, as researchers discovered the same thing with Chinese office workers as well.An article in today’s New York Times by Tina Kelley examines some Asians in New Jersey who are living for a long time:
This may be because calories from carbohydrates are not as likely to increase body fat as the same number of calories from high-fat foods such as oils and meats, which make up such a high proportion of the American diet. The data suggests that when a very low fat diet is consumed (15 percent average dietary fat in rural China), as compared to the typical Western diet (30-45 percent of calories from fat), more calories are burned to convert carbohydrate in fat, so the body cannot store fat easily.
The modern American diet receives about 37 percent of its calories from fat, with lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates. The combination of high fat and high sugar is a metabolic disaster that causes weight gain, independent of the number of calories.
At a nursing home in Paramus, a Japanese market in Edgewater and a center for the aged in Fort Lee, elderly women from Korea, China and Hong Kong attributed their longevity to a healthy diet, belief in God, and their close-knit communities in the well-off suburbs that hug the Hudson River and the New York State border. They also said the conveniences of life in these towns, and the proximity to top-notch medical care, helped ease the path to their next birthdays.1. Campbell, T.C., and J. Chen. 1994. Diet and chronic degenerative diseases, in Western diseases: their dietary prevention and reversibility. Edited by M.J. Temple and D.P. Burkitt. Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press, pp. 67-119.
For the Korean population, however, the average might be slightly skewed, since some Koreans, at least, count their age from conception and base it on the lunar year, factors that may not have been accounted for in census figures, one of the study’s authors said. Pun Park, for example, was born in 1911 but gave her age as 97.
“I didn’t eat beef or meat, and I usually take my main dish as vegetables,” said Ms. Park, who energetically offered apples and oranges as she recounted a life so full of farming, raising four children and doing household chores that it allowed little time for sickness.
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