Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

Are poorer families succumbing to the American lifestyle?

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Big in Japan (Kyodo photo)

We’re not sure why this is coming out right now, but Sankei Express is reporting the results of a survey conducted in November 2010 by the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry on the correlation between income level and lifestyle. The ministry divided respondents into three different groups according to household income: ¥2 million a year or less, between ¥2 million and ¥6 million, and over ¥6 million. The survey found that smoking was more prevalent the lower the annual income among both men and women. About 27 percent of men and 7 percent of women in the highest income group smoked, while 37 percent of men and 12 percent of women in the lowest income group did. Nationally, 32 percent of men and 8 percent of women smoke in all income categories.

In terms of being overweight, which the survey defined as having a BMI (body mass index) of over 25, there was found to be no significant difference between men among the three income groups, but among women the difference was stark. About 13 percent of the women in the highest income group were overweight, and the portion rose to 25.6 percent for women in the lowest group. Also, people of both genders in the lowest income group eat less vegetables regularly than people in higher income brackets, and low-income men tend to not eat breakfast.

If this doesn’t seem surprising it may be due to the fact that in the United States and the United Kingdom it’s been known for years that lower income people have poorer diets, higher rates of obesity, and smoke more than richer people do. Without going into why that is, it seems Japan is catching up with this trend, thus further undermining one of the country’s most beloved self-images of being a classless — or, more precisely, a uniformly middle class — society. If the trend continues along with the recession, it could mean even more of a crisis for social insurance schemes since it can be expected that more people will require health services in the future.

What’s the real cost of quitting?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Discontinued Pfizer ad: Hiroshi Kan is quitting, too

Pfizer poster: Tachi Hiroshi is quitting, too

Recently, the Health Labor and Welfare Ministry released the results of 15 years of research into the amount of money a person spends on health care during an entire lifetime. The research began in 1994, based on records of 52,000 male and female residents of Miyagi Prefecture aged between 40 and 79.

According to the research, a 40 year-old-man today with normal blood pressure could expect to live another 46.5 years and spent a total of ¥13.34 million for health care, which, if he has kokumin hoken (meaning individual national insurance rather than national insurance through an employer), means he would spend about ¥4 million out of pocket, given that patients have to cover 30 percent of a medical bill themselves. A man with high blood pressure can expect to live 44.8 years more and spend ¥17.1 million. The ministry makes no projections for women because the results were “too diverse.”

In terms of other lifestyle determinants, a person who walks more than one hour a day will live 1.5 years longer and spend ¥350,000 less than someone who walks less than one hour a day (on average). However, the most interesting estimate is that someone who smokes will live 3.7 fewer years than someone who doesn’t and will thus spend less during his lifetime on medical care than someone who doesn’t smoke, though the ministry doesn’t specify by how much. The rule of thumb is that elderly people spend exponentially more on health care than do younger people, so if smokers die before they get old, the government saves considerably.

Continue reading about the tobacco tax →


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