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October 11, 2013

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Shanghai’s longevity stars rising thanks to their healthy lifestyles

Shanghai now has more than 1,300 centenarians, thanks to economic support, a sound medical care system and healthy lifestyles, the Shanghai Gerontological Society said yesterday. 

The city had 1,326 centenarians by the end of August, 75 more than last year when life expectancy reached 82.41. 

The society said they shared certain similarities. They were usually mild-tempered, broad-minded, non-smokers and exercised regularly. 

They lived in harmonious relations with their families and were well looked after. Some had hobbies such as singing or calligraphy. 

“A mild and balanced diet, proper exercise, no smoking, a little wine, a good mindset and sleep are good for seniors’ health,” said Wang Chuanfu, former director of the Huadong Hospital and an expert in gerontology, the study of aging.

Wang said elderly people should avoid a diet high in calories, eat more vegetables, avoid sitting around and go for walks, practice tai chi, drink wine in moderation, and sleep about seven hours a day. 

He said that while genes, social factors, medical care and weather conditions affected people’s health, a good lifestyle was very important. 

The city’s oldest resident is Li Suqing who, at 114, still reads newspapers and recites passages from “The Hundred Family Surnames,” a classic Chinese text, when she is happy, her daughter, Tian Yulan, said. 

Li tops the list of “10 Shanghai Female Longevity Stars” for the sixth straight year. 

She drinks milk and eats an egg and walnut powder in the morning, likes drinking green tea and eating hairy crabs, is addicted to children’s TV programs, smiles a lot and goes to sleep at 9pm or 10pm, Tian said. 

Li had pneumonia last year but had recovered, said Tian who looks after her mother and shares a room with her. 

“I don’t dare to leave my mother alone for a minute for fear that she gets tumbled,” Tian, who is 74, said. 

Meng Zichen, 102, was the only centenarian at the “Shanghai Longevity Star” ceremony yesterday to collect his certificate. 

The former accountant still keeps accounts, writing down the foods he eats every day and the price of each food. It’s a habit he has stuck to for decades. He brought one of his account books to the ceremony, which showed that he ate green soybean, shrimp and pumpkin yesterday. Some of his early account books have been collected by the Shanghai Archives. 

He also records temperatures every day. 

Meng has seven sons and daughters, and the oldest is 80 years old.  Shanghai also boasts three centenarian couples. It only had one last year - Zhang Mucheng, 104, and his 105-year-old wife have been married for 83 years. This year, another two couples celebrated the 100th birthday of a spouse. 

The increase in the number of centenarians was bigger than the rise in those aged over 60 and over 80, the society said. 

There were about 8.8 centenarians per 100,000 people in Shanghai, which has a population of 23.47 million, by the end of 2012, up 0.7 from 2011.  

A city can be said to be a “city of longevity” when it has seven centenarians for every 100,000 people. Jing’an District had the highest proportion Ñ 22.3 for every 100,000 people.



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