Japan: life expectancy falls

Life expectancy for women fell to 85.49 years in 2005 from 85.59 the previous year, but remained the world's longest for the 21st consecutive year, ahead of Hong Kong and Spain, the ministry said in a report released Tuesday.

For men, life expectancy fell to 78.53 years in 2005 from 78.64 the year before, the fourth longest in the world after Hong Kong, Iceland and Switzerland, according to the report, which also cited U.N. demographic figures, the AP reports.

A year ago, Japanese men ranked second in the world after Iceland.

Japan has long boasted one of the world's longest-living populations, but experts are worried that changing eating patterns may soon change this.

Life expectancy for both men and women fell for the first time since 1999 due to a higher number of influenza-related deaths among the elderly, according to ministry official Morio Akimoto.

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