2008 Volume 5 Issue 2 Pages 30-38
BACKGROUND: In 2000 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare initiated a new health promotion program, Health Japan 21, in which obesity control is one of the prioritized objectives. For the program's effective implementation, it is important to enhance individual nutritional education as well as to identify the socioeconomic and environmental factors affecting obesity-related lifestyle habits. This study aimed to investigate the secular changes in dietary and exercise habits between sexes and among four types of residential areas in Japan.
METHODS: The datasets of annual national nutrition surveys (1976-2003) were used for the secondary analyses. Data on the dietary and exercise habits of 385,559 persons aged 15 years and older were analyzed. Residential areas were divided into four groups: metropolitan areas, large cities, small cities, and small towns.
RESULTS: Similar trends were observed in the proportions of people skipping breakfast and eating out lunch/dinner, with those living in metropolitans having the highest proportions. The secular trend showed that the proportions of people eating dinner out were highest in the early 1990s, which corresponds to the “bubble period” in Japan.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that dietary habits could be greatly influenced by the country's economic situation, especially in metropolitan areas. Thus, area-specific population approaches should be enhanced to promote appropriate lifestyle habits, especially for the young to middle-aged.