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English>>Life & Culture

Long life isn't such a big riddle

(China Daily)

10:49, October 24, 2012

There's little mystery about living longer. It's 20-30 percent genes directing your fate, and a combination of making sure you do all the things you're supposed to do, like not get killed off, sleep and eat well, and exercise.

>>>Read more: Golden oldies of Hong Kong

That is the consensus of most articles on the subject and appears to be the main conclusion of a recent report by Japan's health ministry, which admitted that Hong Kong women live longest.

I never thought of Hong Kong as a particularly healthy place to live, since it is practically a giant mall and with very little sunlight in downtown areas.

But there it is, Japan's life expectancy has declined to 79.44 for men and 85.90 for women, mainly because of disease or natural causes of death - and not the nuclear and tsunami disasters - while Hong Kong's men are expected to reach 80.5 and women now live to an expected 86.7 years old.

The New York Times' take on this was the change for the better was likely due to medical services and greater health consciousness, but added this would have been despite the "smog and at times oily Cantonese cuisine".

Old ladies ascending Hong Kong's hilly streets and swimming in the morning, or doing tai chi were cited as reasons for the record-breaking longevity of Hong Kong's women, along with buying fresh produce at markets.

While I would add that Hong Kong's air quality and cuisine can't be too bad in terms of life expectancy, any way you cook it, Asians typically live longer than Westerners, Latin Americans, Africans and the rest.

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