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October 22, 2007

How the World Eats

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Interpreter and PR Consultant
Tokyo, Japan
Percentage of obese Japanese adults: 3.1

BREAKFAST: Mineral-enriched fruit juice; bowl of sticky rice, toast, or yogurt

LUNCH: Bowl of rice; cup of miso soup; grilled fish; side of shredded vegetables such as gobo roots flavored with soy sauce (about two-thirds of an American portion)

SNACK: Strawberry cake or green-tea-flavored mousse (in Japan, desserts aren't very sweet — they're more French than American).

DINNER: Onigiri (little rice triangles with a salty plum paste in the middle), sushi (which I stand at a counter to eat), or a bowl of ramen or soba from a street vendor (we are a busy culture, so dinner is never long).

Average calories per day: 1,400

WHY IT WORKS: I think the way we eat is much healthier than other cultures. We take rice seriously and eat it with every meal. In general, our food is lower in calories and healthier than hamburgers. But I think Japanese people are gaining weight because of Western food — potato chips are easy to come by, as is Italian and American food. On the healthy side, we are now paying a lot of attention to buying produce locally to avoid pesticides.

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