Govt white paper: Eat greens, breakfast

japanese woman cookingJAPAN - The government approved at a Cabinet meeting Friday the country's first white paper on food education, which emphasizes the importance of proper nutrition and warns that healthy dietary habits, such as regular, well-balanced meals and families having sit-down meals together, are disappearing.

In a government survey conducted in 2004, just 25.9 percent of families said they ate dinner together every day, down from 36.5 percent in 1976, due to the growing tendency to eat out and the diversification of lifestyles, the white paper says.

A similar survey taken in 2000 found that almost one in five children in the fifth grade of primary school did not eat or rarely ate breakfast, while the figure for second-year middle students was 25.1 percent.

The white paper points out that children who are not in the habit of having breakfast tend to feel tired or irritable, while those who do eat the meal appear to get higher scores on written examinations.

The government has set nutrition-related goals for 2010, including having all children eat breakfast and reducing the percentage of men in their 20s who do not eat the meal to 15 percent from the current more than 30 percent.

To meet these targets, the white paper suggests promoting food education at home under the slogan "Early to bed, early to rise and eat breakfast!"

Calculated on a calorie basis, the current ratio of food self-sufficiency in Japan is about 40 percent, which is one of the worst among developed countries, the white paper says.

Although the traditional, well-balanced Japanese diet was popular until the 1980s, poor eating habits have been on the rise, including eating too much fatty food and not enough vegetables.

source - Yomiuri