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World's Oldest Woman Turns 116 in Japan, Credits Good Food, Relaxation

Image: World's Oldest Woman Turns 116 in Japan, Credits Good Food, Relaxation Misao Okawa

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 07 Mar 2014 01:47 PM

The world's oldest woman turned 116 this week and credits sleep and a good appetite for her longevity.

Misao Okawa celebrated in her hometown of Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday with a white cake decorated with strawberries, Reuters reported. Okawa was born in 1898, the same year the Spanish-American War began and the United States annexed Hawaii as a territory.

Okawa has held the title of world's oldest living person since June 2013, when Jiroemon Kimura, also from Japan, died at 116. Japan has one of the largest groups of centenarians in the world, with more than 54,000 residents living beyond 100 years old as of September 2013, the country's health ministry told Reuters.

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Okawa is reportedly the 10th Japanese person verified to have reached 116 and the third oldest Japanese person ever.

Health experts attribute the longevity of Japanese residents to the country's traditional low-fat diets, affordable healthcare, and good pensions after retirement, according to The Guardian. Other studies also list staying active and maintaining relationships with family and friends as tips for a longer life.

"She eats sushi, her favorite, and whatever she likes — beef stew, spaghetti, or sashimi — every day," an employee at the nursing home where the world's oldest woman has lived for the past 18 years told The Guardian. "She always says the secret to living a long time is to eat a good meal and relax."

Okawa is now one of just five people born in the 19th century who are still alive. Interestingly, all the survivors are women.

Japanese women, according to 2010 government statistics, live an average of 86.4 years, while men have an average life expectancy of 79.5 years.

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