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Government Idle News Politics

Japan Imposes "Fine On Fat" 1271

Posted by timothy
from the fat-man-vs.-the-state dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A recently-introduced law in Japan requires all businesses to have mandatory obesity checks (video link) for all their employees and employees' family members over the age of 40, CNN reports. If the employee or family member is deemed obese, and does not lose the extra fat soon, their employer faces large fines. The legislated upper limit for the waistline is 33.5" for men, and 35.5" for women. Should America adopt universal health insurance, could we live to see the same kind of individual health regulations imposed on us by the government? By comparison, the average waistline in America in 2005 was 39 inches for men, 37 inches for women."
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Japan Imposes "Fine On Fat"

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  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:40AM (#23916757) Homepage Journal
    http://billstclair.com/DoingFreedom/000623/df.0600.fa.lipidleggin.html [billstclair.com] Written in 1978...scary and well worth reading (it's a short story, won't take long to read)
  • Re:wow.. seriously? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SithGod (810139) <dcanders@umich.edu> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#23916863) Homepage Journal
    Even when I'm in good shape, I'm a 34 inch waist at best and still over 200 pounds. Setting arbitrary standards like this are completly pointless
  • by JerryLove (1158461) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:53AM (#23917011)

    I was going to point out the same specious comment... an attempt to falsely tie the two together.

    That said, an arbitrary number on wasit-line is a silly way to determine "obesity". It would allow for small, fat people to be in spec, while large not-fat people (what is Lou Farigno's waist? Michael Jordan?) to be out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:54AM (#23917041)

    I'm posting AC for obvious reasons:

    My company's new health care plan to start next year (yea, they started sending out info in MAY for NEXT YEAR's plan - this is a bad sign) essentially includes stuff like that. Your premiums go up if you do not take advantage of preventive services.

    Now that may sound good on the surface, but when you read the details it starts to become creepy.

    These preventive services include "Weight Watchers" or other weight control. In other words, if your (soon to be required) annual physical tells them you're overweight and you don't improve, and there's no "other" reason for it (such as various hormonal problems that can make it very difficult to lose weight), your out of pocket expenses go WAY up.

    This is scary for people who sit at a desk all day. I don't see it as much of a problem for the folks in the production facilities, where they're moving around all day, but for us IT folks, this is bad news.

    It's already here, folks. Expect it in non-union places first, because the unions will fight it. Then it will be forced down our throats by big government as a cost-saving measure for "universal health care".

    Am I the only one who sees this as the first tiny steps towards "Gattica"?

  • Re:Big Brother? (Score:2, Informative)

    by The End Of Days (1243248) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:04AM (#23917181)

    Are you sure you read the same 1984 I read? Cause pretty much nothing in there is real even now, aside from the paranoia you and others who think it is happening seem to exhibit.

  • by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:04AM (#23917183) Homepage
    Point of note, since this article is all hidden-metric...

    The real waist requirements for men: 85 cm (33.4645669 inches)
    The real waist requirements for women: 90 cm (35.4330709 inches)

    Japan doesn't use inches.
  • Re:already here (Score:5, Informative)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:07AM (#23917255) Homepage Journal

    Side note, the article is being just rabble-rousing by comparing waistlines considering that Americans are so much taller on average than Japanese it makes sense that they would be proportionally larger in waist size.

    I was thinking the same thing until I looked it up [wikipedia.org]. On average men in the US are 1.5 inches taller and women are 1.2 inches taller. That's not a big enough difference to expect our waist sizes to be so much larger (all else being equal).

  • Re:already here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Evanisincontrol (830057) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:13AM (#23917395)
    I did the same thing. [wikipedia.org] Taking it farther, the average US male is 5'9.3" compared to the average Japanese male who is 5'7.3". US men are therefore 1.046875x taller, which means that a 33" Japanese waist equates to a 34.55" US waist. We still fail it.
  • by daveatneowindotnet (1309197) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:17AM (#23917479)
    I find your lack of, lack of, faith disturbing. Insurance companies are thieves, they are the one business who's business model relies on not providing the service they promise. Case in point, Insurance Company A takes a beating in the stock market, to raise profits they raise rates on doctors malpractice insurance, then claim that it is because of lawsuits, for you know, malpractice. Insurance Company B is operating beyond their current means, instead of ceasing purchase of mahogany office furniture, use faulty statistics to target people with higher disposable incomes for auto insurance rate increases, (males around 22-28). I'm not saying government control would be better or that it is unfair for people to pay for an other's lifestyle. But if the problem is price of insurance, lets start by being honest why it is so high.
  • Re:already here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:20AM (#23917531) Homepage Journal

    On average men in the US are 1.5 inches taller and women are 1.2 inches taller.

    I bet the standard deviation is much higher in the US, though, since our population is much more diverse. I'm guessing that there are a lot more Japanese in America than the reverse.

    I'm 6'0", and in my part of the country that makes me just a little taller than average. When I lived in San Diego, I could see over most of the crowd in night clubs.

  • Re:wow.. seriously? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:27AM (#23917683) Homepage Journal

    As I recall, the military has also run into similar problems, with body builders hitting the "obese" mark despite body fat ranges in the 5% area.

    Absolutely. When I was in the Navy in the early '90s, we had semi-annual fitness tests. One of the requirements was a BMI lower than a certain value. There was a guy in my group (no, not me!), who had been extremely obese earlier in his life but who'd lost almost all the weight and was really fit by the time he joined the Navy. However, he still had all the extra skin and stuff around his waist from his heavy days.

    Every six months, we'd go through the same ordeal: "Bob" would get measured for BMI, he'd fail as morbidly obese, and we'd haul him over to the dunk tank to measure his displacement so we could calculate his real body fat percentage. He'd get an excellent score, we'd all pass the fitness test, and then wait for the cycle to repeat itself.

    Calculated BMI absolutely sucks for fitness evaluation, and I'm kind of horrified at the idea that anyone would ever count on it for anything real.

  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#23917961) Homepage Journal

    Do you know what it is called when you (the majority) pass taxes that only apply to a minority?


  • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:51AM (#23918219)

    And I say, "you don't seem to know much about biology". Your biggest error is claiming that you have muscle mass that is "all diet". More important, though, you don't seem to recognize the significance that metabolism -- including very significant genetic factors -- plays in the system.

    By "thermodynamics" you probably mean "energy conservation". All mass and energy conservation tells you, on first glance, is that you can't possibly gain more weight than your total intake (minus your total excretion -- including respiration). Reducing your consumption reduces available energy -- your body can respond by reducing metabolism rather than consuming stored fat.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:59AM (#23918423)

    When I was working on the vascular surgery ward, the beds were crammed with two kinds of people ; smokers, and type-2 diabetics. Many of them were both kinds. Most type-2 diabetes is self-inflicted and can be avoided through managing your weight and diet properly. Combining smoking with type-2 diabetes is basically asking to have your legs amputated.

    When I was working on the pulmonary ward, the beds were crammed with 2 kinds of people - smokers, and asthmatics.

    When I was working the infectious diseases ward, the patients were predominately junkies, with conditions brought on as a result of their habit.

    When I was on ENT, the patients were of three types ; young children needing routine surgery like tonsillectomies and ear grommets, persistent nosebleeds, and really nasty mouth and throat cancers. The cancer patients were, you guessed it, all smokers.

    So the vast majority of patients with chronic, manageable, expensive conditions, some requiring multiple surgeries just to get back a fraction of the function they should have had, were smokers, and fatties, and the worst of them were fat smokers.

    Smoking and obesity cost the health service huge sweaty wads of money and I find your assertion to the contrary to be baseless.

  • Re:what about.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:00PM (#23918451)

    I'm 5'11.5"
    and every day I get angry because I'm not 6'! :p

    But yeah, I'm 5'10.5" and ~193lbs and a little lardy and I have a 35" waist (well, haven't measured recently actually). On the other hand my BMI is ~27 (overweight), and yours is 27.5, so technically you're not "athletically built" unless you're a couple of months into a weight lifting regime.

  • by c0p0n (770852) <copong@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:03PM (#23918517)
    That's too much of a generalisation, dude. Lentils, rice, lettuce, spinach, chick peas, beans, some vegs, tomatoes, certain seasonal fruits, certain cuts of meat, fish like sardines and many others ain't expensive; at least not in the UK, and pretty much all food needs to be imported here from the rest of the EU and beyond. I find much more expensive to eat on kebabs and pre-cooked meals. Unless you're on Tesco Value, that is.
  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:05PM (#23918555) Journal
    Nonsense. They may die sooner, but it takes a long, long time to do so. Especially when we're talking about being overweight. Also, in the mean time, those same fat people are using health care much more often than people of normal weight, because they have much more health problems related to being fat.

    http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029&ct=1 [plosjournals.org]

    http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2008/02/07/obese_people_have_lower_health_costs.php [diet-blog.com]

    http://ethxblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/help-your-country-smoke-drink-and-die.html [blogspot.com]

    http://colorado.mediamatters.org/items/200701220003 [mediamatters.org]

    The facts do not support your statement. The fact is, obese people who smoke cost society less.
  • Re:already here (Score:2, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:09PM (#23918659) Homepage Journal

    I'm afraid not. Lengths scale linearly.

    Indeed they do -- and circumference scales as the square of length.

    Consider a cylinder twice as tall as it is wide. (Which is pretty close to the proportions of the human body, excluding arms and shoulders.) If you increase the height of the cylinder by a factor of x, then the width of the cylinder will also increase by a factor of x -- but the circumference of the cylinder, which corresponds here to waist circumference, will increase by a factor of x^2.

    Come on, this is not that hard to figure out.

  • by infinite9 (319274) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:14PM (#23918779)

    Right now, the most expensive foods in terms of cost per calorie, are the most healthy foods.

    This is absolutely right. I'm a fan of low carb diets. I lost 70lbs this way. If you eat that way, you'll notice that your food will cost more in spite of actually eating less. Also, you'll notice that all of your grocery shopping will be done at the edges of the store. If you venture out into the isles, it turns into frozen food and boxed carbohydrate hell. Want to know why poor people are fat? It's because it's expensive to eat healthy.

  • by TheUglyAmerican (767829) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:17PM (#23918841)
    Between the political left who wants to limit our freedom for the common good and the political right who wants to limit our freedom for the common defense, all I can say is we're screwed.
  • by biolysis (1303409) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:38PM (#23919399)

    And that source is dubious at best.

    They all cite the same article, and three of them are blogs opining about the implications of said article. NOt what I'd call quality sources (but I'm not trying to force my opinion down people's throats, so my standards for sources are higher).

  • by NevermindPhreak (568683) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:50PM (#23919715)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity#Genetics [wikipedia.org]

    As with many medical conditions, the calorific imbalance that results in obesity is probably the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Polymorphisms in various genes controlling appetite, metabolism, and adipokine release predispose to obesity, but the condition requires availability of sufficient calories, and possibly other factors, to develop fully. Various genetic conditions that feature obesity have been identified (such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, MOMO syndrome, leptin receptor mutations and melanocortin receptor mutations), but known single-locus mutations have been found in only about 7% of obese individuals; these people tend to be very obese from a very young age. It is thought that a large proportion of the causative genes are still to be identified. Studies in over 5000 identical twins demonstrated that childhood obesity has a strong (77%) inherited component.

    A 2007 study identified fairly common mutations in the FTO gene; heterozygotes had a 30% increased risk of obesity, while homozygotes faced a 70% increased risk.

    I wouldn't say such a blanket statement. It's true that many people are fat because they are just lazy, but there are also people that have to work much, much harder than you to maintain a weight.

    It always astounds me when "naturally" skinny people think fat people are just lazy. A lot of those people will eat twice as much as me in a day, and just sit on their ass. Maybe their body is less efficient than mine, but I have to work my ass off to lose weight.

  • The interesting thing, is that tofu, beans, lentils and many other meat substitutes have these items completely beaten in price, as well as healthiness.
    Careful there. Soy-rich foods (e.g. tofu, soy milk, etc) can be very dangerous for women. Soy has been linked to estrogen production - raising it - and can be dangerous for women who are at risk for estrogen-based breast cancer. So no, they're not necessarily healthier. A better method is to just use more moderation in what you eat. Personally, I have found it hard to finish my meals at restaurants as of late - I just don't eat that much, and it would be unhealthy to try to.
  • Re:already here (Score:3, Informative)

    by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:07PM (#23920153) Homepage Journal

    In Japan, they mostly have, well, Japanese.
    Actually that is incorrect. Japan is quite culturally diverse. Their overall population is growing while their citizen population is shrinking - they have a negative growth rate. (Namely because to be a Japanese citizen both of your parents must also be Japanese.) I don't know what the actual ratio is, but I do know that is the case with respect to their population.
  • by GreenCow (201973) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:31PM (#23920653) Journal

    Unhealthy people may die sooner, resulting in less state-sponsored social security, but they will have less productive years, as they start having disability and treatment at a younger age. So, healthy people will have more years of productivity, making a greater contribution to society. The thought that dying sooner will lower medical costs may be true, and give people justification for their unhealthy lifestyles, but it fails to account for the loss of productive years of those lifestyles.

    As people live healthier, they will have the productivity that they had in their 40's into their 60's or 70's. Medical progress could push this even higher.

  • by Amilianna (1015267) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @03:34PM (#23923047) Homepage
    So, I'm chiming in as someone who is technically obese. By those screwed up BMI charts, I am overweight (even though otherwise I am COMPLETELY healthy, excusing some childhood issues I had long before I became overweight). Points to make: 1) You think that buying healthy is cheaper than buying unhealthy? Just go into your meat department. Look at 1# of hamburger meat at 20% fat and one at 10% fat. Which one is more expensive? Then take that and compare it to a package of, say, stew meat. That right there tells you which is cheaper - healthy or unhealthy. 2) I am medically obese (but not grossly obese, or whatever the next step is) and yet none of my weight has come from poor eating choices, but from hormones. I gained 40 # from birth control, then stabilized. I gained approximately 35 # when I got pregnant with my first child. Then stabilized again. Now I have a second child and my weight has stabilized at 25# or so over what I was after my first. I have tried exercising, I kept a food journal (wherein I saw that I was eating not only healthy but my caloric intake was extremely low - I wasn't even getting the 2000 calories that most people are suppose to because I only eat when I'm hungry!). Should I be punished because I can't lose weight? Now, granted, I live in America and not Japan so this measure wouldn't affect me, but it just makes me think of the women over there who have had a couple children and who's bodies haven't ever given up the weight. Now, not only they but their entire family will be basically kicked out in the cold because they decided to have kids and the woman couldn't lose the hormone weight afterwards? That just seem cruel to me. And those BMIs don't take anything into account that I've ever seen. What about bone and muscle mass? Did you know that Michael Jordan is clinically obese according to the BMI? For women, what about our breast size? I once read that a D cup breast weighs 20# (so 40# for the set). That could send many people over into the "obese" category. And just as a note: Marilyn Monroe wore approximately a dress size 12 (by today's standards). Do you realize that that size is often put in the "plus" area in a lot of stores? With all these unhealthily thin (and YES there is a thing and YES many celebs and models fall into this category, imo) role models making average size women feel fat and doctors contributing to the problem by failing to take into account so many factors when they chart up your "weight and height" on that messed up BMI it's no wonder that so many of our girls are growing up with eating disorders and a warped view of themselves. I would rather, instead of people focusing on "obesity", that we focus on actual health. If you are an overall healthy person and taking care of yourself (ie eating well and getting exercise and such) that THAT should be the focus, rather than what shows up when you step on a scale. Sorry if that ended up a little ranty... guess I'm a bit sensitive about the whole thing. :blush:
  • by thegnu (557446) <[thegnu] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @05:26PM (#23924693) Journal

    People who actually can't lose the weight are statistical outliers. I agree with you that these people will be punished by the Japanese system, but you can't say it's common, because it's not.

    I know that hormonal issues can cause you to gain and retain weight, but I have a hard time believing someone when they tell me they can't lose the weight. I know it gets harder as you get older, and under differing circumstances, but here's what you do:

    1. Exercise daily. At LEAST 15 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity daily. If you're fit enough to do yoga, do the sun salutation (while focusing on proper breathing) 12 times in a row (or work up to that). That takes 15 minutes, and about 1 x 2 meters of floorspace. Also, a rowing machine or an elliptical crosstrainer is a good way to simulate running-style cardio without blowing your knees.

    2. Shift your diet toward proteins. Shift simple carbs to complex carbs. Shift towards eating more insoluble fiber. If you're willing to pick up exercise, a generalized Zone-style diet of 40% calories from protein, 30% carbs and 30% fats will do wonders.

    3. Build muscle. Muscle increases your metabolism, gives you energy, and makes you stronger so you can exert yourself more often without injuring yourself.

    4. Eat 5 times a day. Eat right when you wake up, and space it evenly until 6pm or so (this is assuming a "normal" schedule). And don't eat for 3 hours before you go to sleep. So if you're eating 1500 calories, you get 300 calories/meal. You get stuff like 2 cans of tuna fish, a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 slice of whole grain bread. Eating that meal is goddamn rough when you're not hungry, let me tell you.

    And then tell me you can't lose the weight. I lost 65 lbs (that's putting on maybe 10-20lbs muscle), and completely changed my metabolism from one where I couldn't lose weight to one where I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. Admittedly, I was young.

    I don't want to sound like I'm on your case, because I realize you're sensitive about it. I just can't believe you, based on what I know. I also wanted to put this here as much for anybody who comes along and reads your post so there's decent information for them. And of course, I could be wrong about you. I've been wrong once before. :-)


  • Re:frosty piss. (Score:2, Informative)

    by SuchiRu (675808) on Wednesday June 25, 2008 @03:33AM (#23930535)
    Actually Sumo wrestlers are extremely fit. They may have quite a bit of fat, but under all that is an enormous amount of muscle. Their day is basically eating and training, so yes, they have more fat than most people, but their bmi is probably better than most the rest of us. They also slim down after retiring quite fast.

    That aside, I'm not surprised to read that the Slashdot community is against this becoming a trend in their own country, but maybe the Slashdot community is, as we all guessed, overweight geeks behind a computer screen.

    I moved to Japan about two years ago, and the diet here is completely different. There are also fast food options that are not McDonalds, Burger King, and other fatty American fast food companies. Outside every station there is it would be hard not to find a locally small locally owned curry or ramen shop. Even fast food chains', such as Yoshinoya and Matusya who specialize in gyudon (beef bowls), serve low calorie meals fast. According to Callorie King [callorieking.com] the Yoshinoya regular sized beef bowl only weighs in at 770 callories [calorieking.com]. The Large bowl, which I find almost impossible to finnish, only has 1090 callories [calorieking.com]. The large is almost 300 calories less than a BigMac and fries.

    The tl;dr version. PUT DOWN YOUR FORK/SPOON/SKEWER/CHOPSTICKS/HUNTINGKNIFE and show some restraint people. I know I'm going to get modded down for this, but fat people generally disgust me. And, it is nearly impossible to reason with one about their caloric intake unless they have had a recent health problem related to it.

    *Please not that this comes from someone who is 5'8" and used to weigh 250 lbs and has since slimmed down to 170 lbs after simply realizing they were disgusting.*

Factorials were someone's attempt to make math LOOK exciting.