Trimming down the Japanese waistline

By now we all know that obesity is a problem in the United States and around the world. We frequently post articles in an ongoing discussion of weight per passenger and charges that the airline can/should levy against them. Australia made headlines last year by upgrading part of their ambulance fleet to accomodate overweight passengers — too many patients couldn’t fit into their operating fleet. And yet we continue to indulge in unhealthy lifestyles, expanding our waistlines and surging the diabetes and heart disease epidemic throughout the country.

Across the Pacific, Japan sees our plight and wants to take steps to prevent the same epidemic. Granted, obese isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when many think of the Asian body type, but facing an aging population and rising healthcare costs, Japan wants to keep it that way. So they’ve passed legislation to force companies and local governments to measure the waistline of their residents, requiring all overweight or in their words “metabo” people to either diet or take blood pressure medication. The cutoff for the metabo label? 33.5″ waist lines for men and 35.4″ for women.

Anything beyond that and they’ll be given dieting guidance in increasing tiers of severity until they shape up. For companies employing metabo workers, financial penalties will be levied until everyone is within tolerance. No speculation in this New York Times article was spent on how these levies will be passed down to employees.

Would something like this work in the United States? I wish it were possible, but I imagine it would be way too difficult to implement and enforce. Would you be willing to participate in a government backed weight loss program?

[thanks to Uncle Barish for the tip]