Nearly two years after an earthquake and tsunami resulted in the second worst nuclear accident in history, Fukushima is still grabbing headlines around the world. Meanwhile, local residents are still suffering from the aftermath.
A nationwide health survey of Japan’s school children has revealed that Fukushima prefecture has the highest rates of obesity for kids aged 5-9 and the second highest for those aged 10 and 11. A local official for Fukushima’s board of education ascribes this downturn in health to the disruption in the lives of the children resulting from the disaster. Children housed in shelters have suffered more stress and had less opportunities to play outside, meaning they haven’t gotten enough exercise. Half of the primary schools in the prefecture also limited outdoor play due to concerns about radiation.
From The Daily Yomiuri:
In comparison with figures from the 2010 academic year, the prefecture’s rate of 6-year-old obese boys increased to 11.4 percent, the highest observed, from 6.2 percent, or ninth place just two years ago. The age group containing 8-year-old girls in the prefecture also showed the highest obesity rates, standing at 14.61 percent–nearly double the 8.1 percent recorded in 2010, or 17th in the rankings.
Obese children are defined as weighing 20 percent more than “standard” weights according to age and height. Five-year-olds in Fukushima had more than double the rates of the national average, according to the Asahi Shimbun. The paper also states that the obesity rates of 14 and 17-year-olds in Fukushima are the highest in Japan.
In a related story, Fukushima victims have banded together to state their grievances with the Japanese government in the form of a non-binding human rights declaration. Many residents feel that they have been treated unfairly and denied information. Many also continue to feel unsafe.
From the declaration, as quoted in the Asahi Shimbun:
We want Fukushima to return to the way it was, where we can eat tasty rice, vegetables, fruit, fish and meat without the slightest fear.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific, California residents have been spotting “Fukushima debris”. There have been around 1,400 sightings reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but only 17 pieces of debris have actually been traced by the NOAA. News reports of a football and a crate containing a motorcycle (both found in Canada) have fueled a bit of tsunami debris fever in the Golden State, alongside some fears of contamination.
Read more on that story in Russia Today.