Japan Data

Dental Health Improving, But Eyesight Declining Among Japanese Children


Results of a recent health survey among Japanese children show fewer cavities, but declining eyesight.

A recent survey found that children with uncorrected vision of under 1.0 on the Japanese acuity scale (equivalent to 20/20 vision) made up 34.6% of elementary school students, 54.5% of junior high school students, and 67.6% of high school students—all record highs. This was the preliminary finding of a fiscal 2019 study on the health of schoolchildren conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Over the past five years, there has been a four percentage-point increase in students with vision under 1.0 at elementary, junior high, and high schools. Causes for declining vision cited by MEXT include lifestyle habits like long-term close-up viewing of smartphone screens. A follow-up survey will be conducted in fiscal 2020 to consider measures to take in response.

Meanwhile, cavities among children have been steadily declining from the peak level reached in the 1980s.

The cavity rate, which includes those who have or have been treated for cavities was 44.8% among elementary school children, 34.0% among junior high school students, and 43.7% among high school students. All three results are year-on-year decreases, and the percentages among junior high and high school students are the lowest on record.

Factors said to underlie the declining cavity rate include efforts made at public elementary schools to teach children about prevention, the spread of artificial sweeteners, and the more prevalent use of toothpaste containing fluoride.

Average height and weight for schoolchildren were roughly on par with the previous year’s levels. Results for average height and weight among representative ages are as listed below.

Average Height and Weight of Japanese Children

Height (cm) Weight (kg)
5-year-olds (kindergarten) Boys 110.3 18.9
Girls 109.4 18.6
11-year-olds (elementary school) Boys 145.2 38.7
Girls 146.6 39.0
14-year-olds (junior high school) Boys 165.4 54.1
Girls 156.5 50.1
17-year-olds (high school) Boys 170.6 62.5
Girls 157.9 53.0

Created by Nippon.com based on the fiscal 2019 MEXT schoolchildren health survey.

The MEXT study is based on data analysis of the results of health checks conducted at nationwide nursery, elementary, junior high, and high schools from April to June 2019.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © A_Team/Pixta.)

children health