Oh, the indignity of it all

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Japan, a country not widely known for having an overweight population, passed a national law two months ago requiring companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of more than 56 million citizens between the ages of 40 and 74. Here’s the article.

They are using these measurements as a guideline for identifying health risks and will fine companies and local governments who fail to meet the target of reducing the overweight population by 10% over the next seven years. Of course they’re doing this because of “ballooning health care costs”. Isn’t it always about the money?

As if the overall idea isn’t frightening enough, wait until you hear the limits: Men must have a waistline no larger than 33.5 inches and women’s are capped at 35.4. If those numbers are accurate, it seems they are giving women a huge break and men, none at all. If Mr. Jelly Belly had to whittle his waist down to 33.5 inches, he would most certainly snap in half.

So what happens if you are deemed to be "metabo" and don’t bring your waist measurement down within 3 months? You are given “dieting guidance”. If that doesn’t work, after six months you will be “steered toward further re-education”. Exactly what the heck does that mean? It’s giving me visions of concentration camps for the thick-waisted.

Think about that: 33.5 inches for a man isn’t that big at all; it isn’t even all that big for a woman. And, not that I really care, but what will this do to Japan’s sumo wrestling industry? The article didn't address that important issue.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want my employer forcing me to lift my shirt so they can measure my jelly belly.

The only saving grace here is that even if our government decided this is a fabulous idea, it would take them so long to implement it that you and I would be, blissfully, long dead before they ever got around to making it mandatory.

But dear God, these types of articles scare the crap out me.

In case you were interested in moving to Japan and wanted to make sure you were thin enough to live there, here is the correct way to measure your waistline (but I’m not sure what “parallel to the floor actually means):

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but does not compress your skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale, and measure your waist. Here’s a link.