When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
Hong Kong

Why People In Hong Kong Live Really Long Lives

Hong Kongers really like soup. Is that the secret to their long leases on life?

Elderly woman in Hong Kong
Elderly woman in Hong Kong
Lisa Lane

This may come as something of a shock to the proud people of Japan, but they've lost their title as the population with the longest life expectancy. Instead the distinction goes to the people of Hong Kong, where men, on average, live 81.24 years and women make it all the way to 87.32.

What's the secret to their longevity? The Japanese Ministry of Health took it upon itself to find out by conducting a detailed survey. And the results, along with Ministry's hypotheses, are now in, the Japanese financial daily The Nikkei reports.


If there's one thing that distinguishes the eating habits of people in Hong Kong, it's a fondness for soup. And not just any soup, but "soup with a variety of ingredients added — every evening," says Yang Yuying, 60. Not only are soups simmered slowly with pork, chicken or other meat, often they contain medicinal herbs as well.

Yang says that Hong Kongers vary the recipes of their soups depending on the season and their state of health. "If someone isn't feeling well, it's better to make soup with fish and vegetables that with chicken or beef," she explains.

Overall, Cantonese cuisine — Hong Kong's mainstream culinary style — involves a lot of fresh seafood and steamed fish. It differs, in that sense, from cooking in other parts of China, where many things are fried in oil. It's also the case that Hong Kongers tend to forgo strong alcohol. Instead they prefer tea or water, along with the occasional beer or red wine.

On a Hong Kong market — Photo: dave.see

All of this may help explain whey the average Body Mass Index (BMI) of people in Hong Kong is 21.2. In Japan the average BMI is 24.7, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health report.

Medical care

Another contributing factor to the lengthy lease on life so many Hong Kongers enjoy may be the high quality, readily available and reasonably priced public medical care available there. No one lives more than a few kilometers from affordable and modern public medical facilities. Japan, being far larger, cannot boast such a dense network of care.


Then there's tobacco, a notorious cause of serious health problems, as any doctor will confirm. As with hard alcohol, people in Hong Kong tend to be quite restrained when it comes to smoking. The Japanese Ministry of Health survey found that just 10.6% of Hong Kongers over the age of 15 smoke cigarettes. The smoking rate in Japan is nearly twice as high — 19.6%.

"In developed countries, the quickest and most effective way to extend the average life expectancy is to make people quit smoking," says Dr. Lin, a professor at Hong Kong University. "Mortality caused by lung cancer, myocardial infarction and other circulatory disorders can thus be reduced."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How I Made Homeschooling Work For My Mexican Family

Educating children at home is rarely accepted in Mexico, but Global Press Journal reporter Aline Suárez del Real's family has committed to daily experiential learning.

How I Made Homeschooling Work For My Mexican Family

Cosme Damián Peña Suárez del Real and his grandmother, Beatriz Islas, make necklaces and bracelets at their home in Tecámac, Mexico.

Aline Suárez del Real

TECÁMAC, MEXICO — Fifteen years ago, before I became a mother, I first heard about someone who did not send her child to school and instead educated him herself at home. It seemed extreme. How could anyone deny their child the development that school provides and the companionship of other students? I wrote it off as absurd and thought nothing more of it.

Today, my 7-year-old son does not attend school. Since August of last year, he has received his education at home, a practice known as home-schooling.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest