Japanese school kids post worst eyesight on record as obesity makes comeback in Fukushima: survey


The number of elementary and junior high school students with an uncorrected visual acuity of less than 1.0 has set record highs in fiscal 2017, an education ministry survey on eyesight and weight showed Friday.

The results might be the result of gazing at smartphone screens from close range and other daily habits, a ministry official said.

The survey was based on the results of health checkups taken by children between 5 and 17 from April to June. It covered 24.9 percent of the checkup results, or 3.41 million children.

The ratio of elementary school kids who had uncorrected eyesight of less than 1.0 rose to 32.46 percent, while the ratio for junior high students hit 56.33 percent. Both are new records, a preliminary report on the survey said.

On obesity, the survey found that 6.53 percent of 5-year-olds and 15.23 percent of 11-year-olds in Fukushima Prefecture weigh at least 20 percent more than standard — the highest on record in the meltdown-hit prefecture.

The rise in obesity is believed to reflect restrictions on outdoor activities caused by fears of radiation exposure from the 2011 triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant managed by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Of the 13 school grades spanned by children between 5 and 17, Fukushima had the highest share of fat children in the 47 prefectures over six or seven grades between fiscal 2012 and 2014, reflecting a sudden jump from fiscal 2011.

But the number of grades in which Fukushima topped the rankings fell to zero in fiscal 2015 and just one in fiscal 2016, before climbing to five in fiscal 2017.

The ratio of elementary, junior high and high school students with ear problems, excluding disabilities, hit record highs as well. Many of the problems involved earwax buildup, officials said.

Meanwhile, only 37.32 percent of junior high school students and 47.30 percent of their high school peers had cavities, both record lows.

The proportion of children with decayed teeth has been on the decline as a whole after peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, the report showed.