Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On a Lighter Note...

On a lighter note…

By Michael Leshinski

Not kidding, the seemingly progressive Japanese government has begun the early stages of weight control for its population. The New York Times recently reported that a law requiring all individuals age 40 through 74 must have their waistlines measured during an annual doctor visit. Government officials hope that the recently instituted laws will help accomplish their goal of reducing the number of overweight citizens. Japan is also hoping to reduce the risk of weight related diseases such as diabetes and stroke. To enforce the law, the government has placed strict rules on many companies that provide health insurance to its workers. Employees of a company falling into the age bracket must all have their waistlines measured. The cutoff is 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women. If you fall above the respective cutoff lines, then it is your employer’s job to make you lose the weight. If they are unsuccessful, the government will impose strict fines that will presumably lead back to the employee and his/her imminent firing. Other citizens, such as retirees, are actually sent a summons letter by the local government to attend special checkups. Even the local government will be held accountable by the national government if they are unable to control the weight of their citizens.

I wonder if the famous Sumo wrestlers are subject to waistline measurement. If so, I wouldn’t want to be the guy who had to enforce those rules. Those with a waist size being greater than the national law will be recommended to undergo weight education in order to drop a few pounds. Violators have 3 months to lose weight or be forced to receive dieting guidance, and then even more education will be imposed after another failed “weigh-in”. The national average for American man’s waistline is 39 inches, almost 6 full inches above the new Japanese standard. I seriously doubt that these standards would fly in the USA. Isn’t it the right of citizens of a free nation to be as fat as they want? It may not be the best good idea, but who are they to choose? FYI the new word for fat in Japan is “metabo”, short for metabolic syndrome. Experts in Japan have coined this condition, characterizing it with similar symptoms as diabetes, including obesity and high levels of blood-sugar. One question remains for the Japanese citizens. Are we really being look after by our government, or have these laws been put in place for political reasons?

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/world/asia/13fat.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin
  2. win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/hlthrisks1104.pdf - 04-15-2008

1 comment:

Em said...

Fascinating! I wonder how Macadonarudo (McDonalds) will fare in Japan under the stress to keep that waistline small. Imagine in the anarchy if they tried this here in the good old U.S. of A. I lived in Japan for a while. They have a great "whatever's-best-for-the-group" mentality. I bet this could actually be successful there.

I do kind of like the imposition it places on employers. I often feel my 9 to 5, sit-at-a-desk and stare-at-my-computer" contributes to my "oversized-ness."

The U.S. Air Force at the base I work on pays their employees to workout for two hours a day--it is included in their eight-hour day. They hope to save money in the long run on health insurance. They even provide the facilities. Not a bad idea! I'd totally take my employer up on that offer!