December 28, 2012

Everything is Connected (Radiation Obesity Edition)

The 2008 animated feature WALL-E portrayed a world so polluted that humans were exiled to space, where lack of physical activity produced a population that was morbidly obese.

News from Japan this morning suggests that may be exactly where we're heading.

According to a report in the Guardian, the highest rates of childhood obesity in Japan are to be found in the Fukushima prefecture, where parents and schools are keeping kids indoors due to lingering fears of radiation contamination.

After triple meltdowns at the Fukshima Daiichi nuclear complex, more than 400 of the district's schools imposed new limits on the amount of time pupils were permitted to play outside, the Guardian said. As of last September restrictions remained in place at 71 primary and junior high schools. The meltdowns forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents who lived with 12 miles of the damaged reactors.

A study released this week by the nation's education ministry found that Fukushima children between the ages of five and nine and between 14 and 17 topped Japan's national obesity rankings. In the two years since the meltdowns rates of obesity among six-year-old boys and eight-year-old girls in Fukushima nearly doubled.

The Fukushima board of education blamed the increase on "stress caused by restrictions imposed on outdoor activities last fiscal year and changes in living environments in the process of evacuation."

"Everything is Connected" is a recurring feature named in honor of the late Barry Commoner's four laws of ecology: Everything is connected to everything else, everything must go somewhere, nature knows best, and there is no such thing as a free lunch.  

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