Friday, June 13, 2008

Japan Bans Belly Fat

In a move which might be perceived as unacceptably draconian by U.S. standards, the Japanese Ministry of Health has begun to crack down on the expanding waistlines of its citizens. Abdominal fat is associated with metabolic syndrome, which causes increases in the incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and type two diabetes.

As reported in The New York Times on June 13th, Japanese companies and local governments must take annual measure of the waistlines of people between the ages of 40 and 74. Men are permitted 33.5 inches and women 35.4. Citizens who exceed the limits will be offered nutrition and weight loss education and guidance to overcome what is now known euphemistically in Japan as "metabo", or metabolic syndrome.

If companies and local governments fail to reduce the obesity of their populations they will be heavily fined. The Japanese government aims for a 25 percent reduction in overweight citizens over the next seven years, all in an effort to contain the rapidly increasing health care costs of obesity related diseases. This law, with its intended goal of banning belly fat was instituted earlier this year, and will effect about 56 million Japanese citizens.

Much has been written in the American press recently about the growing incidence of metabolic syndrome in the U.S. and its huge burden on the health care system which itself is suffering from an acute case of "metabo". As yet, no U.S. government tape measures have appeared on the scene.