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...but if this report is true, I feel like I should.

To stem Japan’s “soaring obesity,” the health ministry has mandated that all waistlines among its 56 million workers over age 40 be below “regulation size” of 33.5 inches (for men). Any company failing to bring its employees’ weight under control — as well as the weights of their family members — will be fined up to 10% of its earnings by the government.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
Please be an April Fools joke.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
She specifically says it isn't.
Apr. 5th, 2008 12:18 am (UTC)
Wow, what a difference in tone, between this article and the original one from Junkfood Science. By comparison, the Telegraph article sounds almost like it approves.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I read that this morning, and I'm equally horrified. One of the things that's very clear to me though, is that one of the reasons they CAN get away with this is that have nationalized healthcare. Which is something that I wish we had, except when governments behave like this.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
Nationalised healthcare doesn't cause stupidity like this. New Zealand has single-payer health care, and nothing of the sort has ever even been raised as a possibility here, let alone passed.

Insurance-based health systems like in the USA are just as capable of this kind of silliness -- I've heard of so many people who can't get insurance at all because of "pre-existing conditions" that it just strikes me as unworkable. It takes but the stroke of a policy pen to create a waist measurement above a certain number to be a "pre-existing condition" and then poof, no healthcare unless you pay through the nose for it.

To make it clear, I do not endorse or agree in any way with what the Japanese government is doing or how it is going about this. All I'm saying is that it's not the fault of nationalised healthcare.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
It takes but the stroke of a policy pen to create a waist measurement above a certain number to be a "pre-existing condition" and then poof, no healthcare unless you pay through the nose for it.

In the US there is in fact such a pre-existing condition - it's a BMI higher than a certain number. Which makes about as much sense as a waist size, in terms of predicting current future health problems.

So far if you belong to a large enough company you can still get coverage if you have a BMI higher than 30, but forget it if you belong to a small company or try to get individual coverage.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Huh. I've always known that I can't leave Kaiser since nobody else (other than straight Medicare) has to cover me, but I've always thought of it being because of all the things wrong with me. Now it could be my weight.

Kaiser and Medicare have spent $2M on me in the last 25 years, but not a bit of it has to do with my weight.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Our way's not perfect, but so far I like it better. Fucked if I'm moving to Japan, though.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 11:42 am (UTC)
I don't think it's the fault of nationalized healthcare, just that it's easier to enforce.

It's true--I can't get private health insurance in the US. Instead, I can get "high risk pool" health insurance from the state for the tune of $800/month. I'm just glad I have employer-based health insurance.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
Conform or be fired.

Yeah. I think a boycott may be in order.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Oh god.
Apr. 3rd, 2008 07:29 am (UTC)
Since I think a good case can be made that obesity is a reaction some people/bodies have to living in a high-calorie environment, and it appears that asthma similarly may be caused by living in a low-infectious-disease environment; should we start blocking health care for people with asthma too?
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 3rd, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
My understanding of Japanese culture is that it's vitally important to the identity especially of older people (who are being targeted) to maintain a connection with a company, and losing that connection is very humiliating. So by making it the company that "suffers" if a person doesn't make their weight conform, they are putting incredible social pressure on the person. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people did end up conforming even if they wind up with eating disorders. Also with the requirement that dependents also be thin, I think child abuse will result.

On the other hand it might be the final death throes of the company culture.
Apr. 5th, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
It's interesting to me that they go after employers, rather than after individual people. I guess they're just using the leverage that a company has over their employees, to pressure the largest number of people with the least amount of effort on the government's part.

And the usual irony: The ministry hopes to see a 25% reduction in the number of people at risk over three years.

What does "at risk" mean? If they mean at risk of developing health problems, then why are they forcing people to take medications that may or may not be safe? "We're going to give you a potentially dangerous drug. But it's for your health!"
Apr. 5th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
Apparently it's OK for people under 40 to be fat? I don't understand the logic...
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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