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Japan Is Now Eating Less Tuna, More Steak

Thanks to young people

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

As Japan's dwindling population gets older, the country is seeing a major shift in appetites: People are eating less fish — specifically, tuna — and more beef, according to the Financial Times.

Japan's seafood consumption has been steadily declining over the past 20 years while consumption of meat has been on the rise over the past decade, with meat overtaking seafood in popularity as of 2006. Analysts say the older generation that's used to subsisting on a seafood-heavy diet is eating less as it ages, and the younger generation prefers meat.

According to new figures from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the amount of raw and frozen tuna brought into the country — either by imports or its own fishermen — dropped by 3 percent in 2015.

While it's certainly not good news for the country's seafood industry, perhaps Japan's declining tuna consumption will have a positive impact on bluefin populations: The number of prized bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean has plummeted by 97 percent since the 1960s thanks to overfishing, and Japan consumes 80 percent of the global bluefin catch.

But it will remain to be seen what effect, if any, the shift in consumption will have on the nation's health: Japan enjoys a low rate of heart disease, and research indicates that's at least partially due to a diet high in seafood.

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