Japan begins to regulate waist size

Everyone I know thinks of Japanese people as being healthy and slim.  Their traditional diet contains a lot of fish and vegetables.  But Japan’s government is worried about people becoming overweight.  In fact they are so concerned about it, they’ve enacted a law requiring people from the age of 40 to 74 to undergo measurements.

From the NY Times Asia:

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women…and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

But the most disturbing part, in my opinion is this:

…the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets.

NEC, Japan’s largest maker of personal computers, said that if it failed to meet its targets, it could incur as much as $19 million in penalties.

So essentially you are required by law to submit to have your waist size measured.  If you don’t fit in what the government has determined is “healthy” you are given a diet and then if you don’t lose weight in 3 months you are “re-educated” and possibly face a fine?

The article continues with this argument:

Yoichi Ogushi, a professor at Tokai University’s School of Medicine near Tokyo and an expert on public health, said that there was “no need at all” for the Japanese to lose weight.

“I don’t think the campaign will have any positive effect. Now if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh more than 100 kilograms,” or about 220 pounds, Mr. Ogushi said. “But the Japanese are so slender that they can’t afford to lose weight.”

Now, I agree that Americans in general should lose weight, but what do you think of the idea of being forced by the government to be measured?

Then there are things like this:

The mayor of one town in Mie, a prefecture near here, became so wrapped up in the anti-metabo campaign that he and six other town officials formed a weight-loss group called “The Seven Metabo Samurai.” That campaign ended abruptly after a 47-year-old member with a 39-inch waistline died of a heart attack while jogging.

But fortunately there is some sanity still.  Although Japan tends to be a society where everyone complies, you still have people willing to stand up when something this crazy is proposed:

…Kenzo Nagata, 73, a toy store owner, said he had ignored a letter summoning him to a so-called special checkup. His waistline was no one’s business but his own, he said…He planned to disregard the second notice that the city was scheduled to mail to the recalcitrant.

“I’m not going,” he said. “I don’t think that concerns me.”

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