While the rest of the world gets fatter, Japanese women (but not men) are getting skinnier -- starving themselves and taking up smoking. As reported in the Washington Post:
The trend is most pronounced among women in their 20s. A quarter-century ago, they were twice as likely to be thin as overweight; now they are four times more likely to be thin. For U.S. women of all ages, obesity rates have about doubled since 1980, rising from 17 percent to 35 percent.Sounds like someone could use an extra scoop of fried chicken wing flavored ice cream.
Social pressure -- women looking critically at other women -- is the most important reason female skinniness is ascendant in Japan, according to Hisako Watanabe, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo.
"Japanese women are outstandingly tense and critical of each other," said Watanabe, who has been treating women with eating disorders for 34 years. "There is a pervasive habit among women to monitor each other with a serious sharp eye to see what kind of slimness they have."
Public health experts say that younger Japanese women, as a group, have probably become too skinny for their own good. Restricted calorie consumption is slowing down their metabolisms, the average birth weight of their babies is declining, and their risk of death in case of serious illness is rising.