Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ma'am, Step Away From the Unagi.

Japan Wants People to Slim Down: "Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. .... To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years...the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets." San Francisco Chronicle, 6/13/2008

So to be overweight in Japan is not only unhealthy, it's illegal.

The CA company I work for has been owned by a large Japanese corporation for almost 20 years. During that time, we've had several sets of "interns" sent from Toyko. They each stay for about 4 years, improving their English and gradually absorbing some American culture. They arrive in suits and ties, drop down to Dockers and button down shirts, and carry slang dictionaries so they can understand their goof-ball American co-workers. None of them are overweight. If they stick with a traditional Japanese diet, they go home looking just like they did the day they arrived. If they adopt an American diet, they go home 10-20 lbs. heavier. According to this article, that could spell trouble.

I'm trying to image a law like this being passed in the USA. First of all, it's age and gender discriminatory. (Men must conform to a stricter waistline than women.) Second, it requires companies to be involved in personal health care. Try writing that into an employee handbook! Then, would we need an additional court system? Traffic fines, building code violations, and waistline non-conformance. "What do you do for a living? Oh, I'm in Waist Management." If you take an on-line nutrition course, can you have the violation taken off your record? If you are a repeat offender, are you sent to minimum security diet facility and kept until your waistline shrinks?

Of course, Americans would take to streets in protest - well, probably drive-by protesting or sit-ins, because we wouldn't want to walk all day carrying heavy protest signs. But a sit-in would be OK. "Keep Government Out of My Closet!" "American 4 Choice - Cheeseburgers are My Right!" "Watch Your Own Waistline, Not Mine!" "Overeating Is Not a Crime" ....

The article does mention some protest in Japan, but only because "there's no need at all" for the population to lose weight. Unlike here. Oh well, gotta go meet some friends for lunch. A California Roll or Tempura sounds good!

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