Thursday, November 15, 2007

On weight and suicide

So I was talking to Willie the other day, about how weight management was important. I was telling him it was neccisary for him to eat plenty of vegetables (while trying to get him to eat his green beans, goshdammit), because eating vegetables is an easy way to get full without being full on needless carbs or sugars. I told him about the obesety epedemic this country is facing, and you know what he said?

"Sure, everyone's fat. But look at our suicide rate compared to Japan."

It made me think.

He's totally right.

I'm not going to actually agree that just because we're fatter means we're less prone to suicide, but it is a funny coincidence. And by funny I mean horrible. The leading cause in most suicides in Japan is stress. Due to it's small size and economic dependancy on foreign goods, as well as it's constant population growth and competative job market, suicide is huge in Japan. Yet here in the US, land of the fat-ass, we depend on outsourced workers to do our jobs for us. Yes, we have unemployed people, but they are by no means an epidemic. Just for fun, take a look at these statistics:

In 2003, Japan had 34,427 suicides. 27 out of every 100,000 people died by suicide.

In the US, it was 6.78 per 100,000 people.

Now add..

The average weight for a woman in Japan is 100-110lbs.

In the US, it's 140lbs.

It's interesting. I'm not gonna say that they're dependant on eachother, because obviously that's not the case. Japan's suicide rates are due to, like I said, stress and pressure and the competative job market. Not because they're skinny. But.. could there be a connection between the overall use of pleasure-centers in the brain that Americans can easilly access with food?

Well then there's the argument that the only reason we CAN access these pleasure centers is because we have money, due to our country's less competition driven work force.

But then you can argue that the US is just as competative as Japan, and that our society is built on stress. The average salary for the US is $36,764. In Japan, it's roughly around $30,000. Our average salaries are similar, however take in mind how much more expensive it is to live in Japan. Food especially costs more, which is why many people depend on small ready-made packaged food.

But then...

Japan's unemployment rate is 4.0%. The US's unemployment rate is 4.8%.

So the US actually has MORE unemployed people than Japan! So there could actually be a link to what Willie said! Is that crazy, or what? IN THEORY, one could argue that being "fat and happy" has it's merit. IN THEORY. When you look at the statistics between these two countries, there is evidence. I'm not saying all Japanese people are unhappy, heck no! But it is possible that Americans are more easilly content because we are more easilly fed with pleasure inducing food. Food that is, unfortunately, bad for us physically.. but releases chemicals in the brain that causes us to feel content.

Is that amazing or what? Now why didn't I study in sociology?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! Interesting thoughts, however I think the main reason for Japan's high suicide rate is the culture itself. The stress of doing well by your family and not doing things to "shame" them (doing badly in a job, school, relationships), the incredibly HIGH intensity and expectation that surrounds school, and the long work hours and other stressors are the cause of many of the suicides. To tie food into the equation is a bit far fetched only because Western food is becoming very available, and it's not doing anything to stem the suicides...only to create a new problem of obesity that didn't exist before...