Survey: More Japanese kids overweight, possibly due to pandemic

NHK -- Nov 29

A Japanese government survey shows last year there were record high percentages of overweight children in many age groups, possibly due to pandemic-related lifestyle changes.

The education ministry studies the health checkup data of children nationwide from kindergarten through high school to survey their development.

The ministry usually conducts the survey from April to June each school year. But in the three years through 2023, the ministry extended its survey period till March due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Japanese school year runs from April to March.

The survey shows that, in the 2022 school year, every age group from the fifth grade through the third year of junior high school had the highest percentages ever of overweight boys. The current survey method was introduced in 2006.

There are six grades in Japanese elementary schools. Junior high schools have three-year systems.

More than 15 percent of fifth-grade boys and 11.3 percent of third-year junior high school males were overweight.

Among females, every elementary school age group, except second grade, logged the highest ever percentage of overweight girls. More than 10 percent of sixth-grade girls were overweight.

Ministry officials advised against simple comparisons of past data with the latest figures because the sampling periods were different. But they suspect the pandemic led to lifestyle changes, such as affording kids fewer opportunities to exercise.

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