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October 20, 2012

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Shanghai's centenarians honored as growth boosts life expectancy

ECONOMIC support and environment have boosted life expectancy in Shanghai with the city registering 1,156 centenarians with the oldest among them already 113 years old, the Shanghai Gerontological Society said yesterday.

Life expectancy reached 82.5 in Shanghai last year. By the end of 2015, the city is expected to have over 4.3 million seniors over the age of 60, occupying nearly 30 percent of the registered population.

Li Suqing, 113, was crowned "Shanghai Longevity Star" for the fifth straight year and has a clear mind and sharp eyes despite her age, according to her daughter Tian Yulan. "She is usually in good mood and rarely gets angry," Tian said.

Li was hospitalized for 10 days in July for pulmonary infection but has recovered. Tian now shares a room with her mother to look after her.

The oldest man in the city is 110-year-old Qin Maotang, who worked as a tailor in his early years. While Li could not make it to the celebrations yesterday, Qin was present to collect his "Shanghai Longevity Star" certificate.

Walking with a crutch, Qin stumbled on his way to the stage to receive his certificate and shook hands with another centenarian, the 102-year-old Wu Zhicheng, and smiled to everybody when he walked out of the hall.

"Good mindset!" Qin told reporters who asked him the secret of his longevity.

Qin can still climb stairs and enjoys chatting with neighbors and watches Peking Opera and historical plays.

He does simple exercises daily, gets up at 6am, sleeps for an hour after lunch, watches TV after dinner and then goes to bed at 8pm.

He has bath every day even in chilly weather.

Shanghai also boasts a "centenarian couple" - Zhang Mucheng is 103 years old while Xu Dongying is 104. They have been married for 82 years.

The gerontological society said the centenarians share some common similarities. They are usually mild-tempered, broad-minded, not picky about food and exercise regularly. They have a healthy schedule and live in harmonious relations with their families.

"Proper exercise, nice mood, mild diet, no smoking and few wine are all good for seniors' health," said Wang Zanshun, former director of the Huadong Hospital and an expert in gerontology.

Wang, who is himself 89 years old, said seniors are advised to go for strolls and avoid eating viscus of animal and fat which contain cholestenone. Fish should be part of the diet.

By the end of 2011, the city had 1,156 centenarians - 159 more than in 2010. There are about eight centenarians per 100,000 people in Shanghai, which has a population of 23.47 million.

A city can be said to be a "city of longevity" when it has seven centenarians for every 100,000 people.

Jing'an District has 20.8 centenarians for every 100,000 people, topping the list, followed by Xuhui District (12.9), Chongming County (12.5) and Huangpu District (12.5).

Sun Pengbiao, secretary general of the gerontological association, said there were a variety of reasons for the list.

"In downtown areas like Jing'an and Huangpu districts, seniors tend to have a higher education background and enjoy a more complete health care system, while seniors in suburban areas like Chongming enjoy a better air quality," Sun said.


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