Noto quake survivors afflicted with lifestyle-related diseases

The number of people with lifestyle-related diseases has increased in Wajima City in central Japan, which was hit by a powerful earthquake on New Year's Day.

Wajima Municipal Hospital says the food at shelters, as well as stress, combined with other factors, are to blame.

Hospital officials have been examining, on a monthly basis, the percentage of patients who had been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipemia following the Noto Peninsula quake.

In January, more than 7 percent of all patients were diagnosed with at least one of the diseases. The figure is nearly three times the figure of 2.5 percent recorded a year before.

The number of people who have these lifestyle-related diseases has remained high. As of June 13, the figure stood at 3.3 percent, more than double the figure of 1.6 percent recorded last year.

Hospital officials attribute the trend to quake-induced anxiety and stress among evacuees, meals high in salt, and few opportunities to go out for exercise.

Tanaka Satoshi, a 64-year-old man who lives in temporary housing in Wajima with his wife, has had diabetes and hypertension for 30 years.

After their home was destroyed in the quake, the couple lived in their car or at various evacuation centers, before moving to temporary housing in March.

Tanaka said he tried to exercise by going out for walks every day.

But he and his wife were unable to cook for themselves at shelters, and as a result they ate boxed meals, instant noodles and such meals which are high in salt.

Between January and May, he gained 2.5 kilograms, while his average blood glucose levels worsened. He says he is now consuming less salt and improving his diet, while addressing the lack of exercise.

A senior hospital nurse says she is concerned about what is yet to come as there may be people with life-style diseases that have yet to be examined.

She is calling on quake victims to have medical exams or visit hospitals periodically.