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With life expectancy rising and health levels improving, preparations are needed for a time when people are expected to live longer and healthy lives. Japan is already feeling impact of this demographic shift: 27% of the population is over 65 and life expectancy is 84 years. Its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, wants his country to become a model of how to make ultra-long lives fulfilling—and affordable. Part of his policy addresses the issues related to ageing, such as healthcare costs and labor shortage. However, an older population also offers opportunities. In 2017, Japanese seniors spent more than younger age groups on meat, cars, smartphones and package tours. In addition, Japan could look at the international market for inspiration. In several countries, developers are designing intergenerational communities where young and old cohabitate and are brought together in activities that promote greater understanding. Examples include co-located adult and childcare centers or senior centers within schools. These examples show that preparing for the future of senior living can create many benefits and growth opportunities to society.
Resisting antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance has become a global problem. Every year, 700,000 deaths can be attributed to antimicrobial or antibiotic resistance; a figure that could rise to 10 million in 2050. In healthcare, a better control over the prescription of medicines is needed to battle growing antibiotics resistance. However, an even bigger problem is manifesting itself in agriculture, where excessive use of pesticides can undermine ecosystems for biomass production and antibiotics are used to keep animals free from resistant bacteria. Approximately 80% of total consumption of antibiotics is in the animal sector, where the drugs are used on a large scale to prevent disease in healthy animals. While global demand for foods of animal origin will only keep growing, the volume of antibiotics used in animals will continue to increase. To stop this trend, recently the E.U. has voted for a complete ban on the preventive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. Furthermore, precision farming techniques and satellite imagery for farming may reduce the need for pesticides.
You are what you eat
The increase in people adopting a vegan lifestyle illustrates some of the structural changes in our consumer culture. To counterbalance the time we are spending online and in virtual worlds, bodily and physical experiences are becoming more important, with food being an exponent of this trend. While food is a necessity, healthy food and drinks (e.g. low on fat and sugar) improve our wellbeing. In addition, eating and drinking are part of social practices, such as dining out or having a drink with friends. On top of that, food and drinks are closely related to religious practices; most religions have prescriptions on what (not) to eat and drink. Today, food and drinks are increasingly becoming part of our identity, for example by posting images of our dinners and smoothies on social media. It shows how food has climbed up the Maslow pyramid and evolved from a physiological need to a means of self-expression. It can help us attain a kind of moral gratification, for example in taking care of the environment and animal welfare by eating less meat.