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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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:37AM (#23916691)
    if it gets rid of that fat fuck CowboyNeal, I'm all for it.
  • already here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Romancer (19668) <romancerNO@SPAMdeathsdoor.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#23916705) Journal

    Do you smoke?
    Do you drink?
    Drug tests?

    Any of this sound familiar in a survey from your insurance application or work orientation pack?

    • Re:already here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daveatneowindotnet (1309197) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#23916859)
      Agreed, to be honest this is just bad marketing by the Japanese government. They are being too honest. If they merely raised everyone's taxes and then offered tax relief to those who stayed below these requirements they would be seen as "helping" their citizens stay healthy. 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.
      • by Brain-Fu (1274756) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:01AM (#23917147) Homepage Journal
        Even with private health insurance, those who live unhealthy lifestyles have the net effect of increasing insurance premiums for everyone.

        The insurance companies maintain profitability by selecting price points that set them ahead, given all of the expenses they are likely to incur. The more fat people they have on their plans, the more likely they are to spend money on all the fat-related medical issues that arise, so the more they must charge.

        While it may be unfair to target fat people (or smokers or drinkers or what-have-you), isn't it equally unfair to make healthy people pay a lot of extra money to support the unhealthy lifestyles of their neighbors?

        As usual, this door swings both ways, and it doesn't matter whether the health care is universal or privatized...any kind of medical insurance raises these issues.
        • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:10AM (#23917327) Homepage Journal

          While it may be unfair to target fat people (or smokers or drinkers or what-have-you), isn't it equally unfair to make healthy people pay a lot of extra money to support the unhealthy lifestyles of their neighbors?

          So, what if I have good genes.... and you have bad? If we are willing to open up the can of worms of risk assignment, then why should we ignore science and not surcharge those people who have doomed genetics? What, exactly, entitles people with weaker genes to a health discount at the expense of someone else?

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:17AM (#23917483)

            Or even better, statistically there is a correlation between being poor (or being born to poor parents) and having diabetes/heart disease/etc later in life. Since those folks are a higher risk shouldn't we charge them more for their coverage as well?

            • by MikeB0Lton (962403) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:55AM (#23918347)
              This is why we have high deductible policies and Health Savings Accounts available now. You pay for your own healthcare when you need maintenance, just like you pay for oil changes and brake pads on your car. If you don't take care of yourself, you pay more. If you do you pay less. Of course there are sometimes emergencies that would cost a fortune, which is where the insurance comes in. This is already how we insure our homes and cars. Insurance is protection against unforseen expenses, not a pool of free money. Most of us put in way more than we take out.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            So, what if I have good genes.... and you have bad? If we are willing to open up the can of worms of risk assignment, then why should we ignore science and not surcharge those people who have doomed genetics? What, exactly, entitles people with weaker genes to a health discount at the expense of someone else?

            Isn't additional surcharges for every tiny little genetic defect exactly what the insurance industry has been dreaming about for decades? From their point of view the profit potential must be mouthwatering. And profit is what the insurance industry is all about. Paying out insurance to customers who are entitled to it seems to be regarded as an annoying profit leak they will do anything to plug.

          • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:35AM (#23917895)

            good genes

            You say "good genes". I say: "bad math". Body fat is subject to the universal laws of thermodynamics. If you decrease your calorie consumption, you will have less energy left over to store as fat. The overall trend in the USA (or probably all of the western world) is towards unhealthy diets. I have what might be called a "superfood" diet and hover at a trim 30-32" waist size, even with what I must admit is too little exercise. I sport a six-pack and ripped muscles--its all diet. I'm down from about a 36" waist from when I realized I was getting too old for a 20-something diet full of pizza and cheeseburgers. Since beginning my superfood diet (approximately 50% of calories by fruit, 30% by legumes and nuts, 10% by grain, 10% by dairy), I have noticed that the healthy foods I choose have been systematically replaced in the grocery store by less healthy alternatives. For example, at my local Albertson's, whole grain cereals have been replaced by boxes of sugar-coated junk. "Regular" juice is replaced by "pulp free". Etc. Etc. Start a healthy diet and track the availability of the healthy foods you eat in the grocery store. You will see that your choices deteriorate over time. Soon you have to switch to "healthy" stores with elevated prices. Rather than tax employers, the state should tax unhealthy food alternatives. The cost of the unhealthy diet will be passed to the directly to the consumer where it belongs. To save money, people will switch to healthier alternatives that cost less. Right now, the most expensive foods in terms of cost per calorie, are the most healthy foods.

            • 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 Bombula (670389) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:02PM (#23918499)
              Rather than tax employers, the state should tax unhealthy food alternatives. The cost of the unhealthy diet will be passed to the directly to the consumer where it belongs.

              B-b-b-b-b-but THAT would mean interfering with the magically perfect free market, and those paragons of competition and transparency: our wonderful All American Corporations! It would EVIL, you pinko commie bastard, if we were to regulate any industry with intentions as noble and honest as those of the food industry.

              Why you gotta hate on the high-fructose cornsyrup and yellow dye #5, yo?

            • by Tyr_7BE (461429) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:16PM (#23918825)

              I seem to feel the need to post a counterpoint to just about everything you said, because I've noticed the complete opposite of your entire post. Think of this as an antipost to your post.

              I did decrease my calorie consumption after university. Most of my diet consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, tofu, and low fat seafoods. I get most of my protein from non-animal sources, I avoid white/bleached grains, and eat primarily vegetables, in sensible portion sizes. I made this shift in my diet probably two years ago. While I haven't been getting bigger, or fatter, I have been hovering around a 38" waist. I'm not pear-shaped or round, but you definitely can't see my abs. In addition to diet, for the last two years or so I have been going to the gym 3 times per week, playing four hours of soccer per week, baseball twice per week, and biking everywhere (I don't have a car, so 100% of my transit is by bicycle). I consider my lifestyle apart from my computer desk job to be very healthy - I eat right and I exercise. But it's just not in my genes to have the six pack and lean body. My father is the same way - he works construction for a living, goes to the gym every single day and runs for 45 minutes, and while he's not fat by any stretch of the imagination, he's definitely not lean and skinny. At the same time, I know people who are beanstalk-thin and eat whatever they want. Entire pizzas to themselves, entire pots of pasta with cream sauce, basically throwing dietary caution to the wind. Your diet plays a role in your body shape, but genetics does as well. And that's where I see this proposed "fat tax" as really inappropriate. In order for me to get to a 33" waist, I would pretty much have to starve myself to dangerous levels. It simply wouldn't be a safe thing for me to do with my body type.

              As for sugary foods appearing at the supermarkets, I have always seen sugary foods in the supermarkets. Pulp-free juice has been around as long as I can remember, and we were begging our mom for sugary cereals since we were old enough to walk and talk and eat cereal. What I have noticed lately is the growth of that remote corner of the grocery store dedicated to organic food and healthy eating. What once was two or three shelves hidden away at the back of the store has expanded to be a good 15% of the place. Whole grain pastas, natural peanut butters, wild/brown rice, etc etc. Not only that, but I've been seeing "certified organic" alternatives to just about every product on the shelf, even outside of the organic section. This includes produce and preserves. It seems people are honestly more interested in putting better things in their bodies these days, and grocery stores all over the region have changed to reflect this in the last five years or so. This could however just be a difference between where you and I live (I'm north of the border in Canada).

            • by akp (32732) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:38PM (#23919391)

              You say "good genes". I say: "bad math". Body fat is subject to the universal laws of thermodynamics. If you decrease your calorie consumption, you will have less energy left over to store as fat. The overall trend in the USA (or probably all of the western world) is towards unhealthy diets. I have what might be called a "superfood" diet and hover at a trim 30-32" waist size, even with what I must admit is too little exercise.

               

              Wow! Your anecdotally reported study with a sample size of one has convinced me! Diet must be the only factor in body fat composition!

            • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @02:49PM (#23922247)

              Rather than tax employers, the state should tax unhealthy food alternatives.

              How about the state simply stop subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup first?

          • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:37AM (#23917925) Homepage Journal

            You choose to have an unhealthy lifestyle, and thus there are incentives to encourage you to change.

            Last I checked, I have very little control over my genetic code (still trying to invent that time machine so I can kill my father before I was born...)

            That said, I'm rather unhappy that as a moderate consumer of alcohol, my insurance could group me with binge drinkers and charge me more money, even though there's evidence that moderate drinkers are healthier than non-drinkers [nih.gov]. Who gets to decide what's science and what's not?

          • Apples and Oranges (Score:4, Insightful)

            by 1800maxim (702377) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:48AM (#23918165)
            You cannot control your genes.

            You CAN control your obesity, alcoholism, and smoking.
        • 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.
          • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:28PM (#23919131) Homepage Journal

            In most states and in most insurance categories, the maximum profitability margins of the insurance companies are regulated, as they should be. In all such states you can rest assured that the price of buying insurance is within ~15% of the cost of providing said insurance.
            That price may not be distributed with maximum fairness, but that's essentially the subject of the discussion: how to improve fairness of the cost distribution.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:25AM (#23917621) Journal
          That's one of those things they use to justify sin taxes. It's not true. People with unhealthy lifestyles die more rapidly than people with unhealthy lifestyles. Which means they cost much, much less. The people who lingers in the system for many years are the ones who drive up costs.
        • by initdeep (1073290) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:37AM (#23917927)

          and what if people who are extremely healthy engage in outdoor activities which tend to cause injuries and death.

          For example, I am an amateur motorcycle road and motocross racer.
          I am on a company insurance program, so my involvement with these sports has no bearing on our total health care costs since it is based upon demographics of age and sex.

          since i routinely have small accidents and small injuries (hence my amateur and not pro status), should i also be penalized?

          what if a i was a fat bastard on the couch who didn't get injured, because i didn't do anything?

          should i be targeted then?

          this is not a good plan.

          next we should have different insurance rates for someone who uses a seat belt and someone who doesn't, and fines if you are caught saying you do but don't.

          then we should have different places for people of one type of health from another, after all, we wouldn't want to possibly infect someone.

          then we should have a master race which is the ideal of all of this and anybody who doesn't fit this master race we can just get rid of...............

          • by Gyga (873992) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:51AM (#23918231)
            My veiw on seat belts is this: If you don't wear your seat belt you can't be entitled to any injury claims against the other person involved in the wreak. If you do wear a seat belt you are entitled. Not wearing a seat belt is a personal right that should have consequences when used. If you don't wear a seat belt an get thrown from your car I should not have to pay for the extra medical costs if it was my fault.
      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

          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.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Just Some Guy (3352)

          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:already here (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RicktheBrick (588466) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:24AM (#23917599)
        The question is who is costing the government more? There is an argument made that people who smoke while they have more expenses while they are alive eventually save the government money since they die sooner. Ten years of social security is a lot of money and some of them do not even live that long. Maybe it is not a cost but a morality issue here. Should we be concerned enough to try to force people to take care of themselves?
      • by number6x (626555)

        Just some back of the napkin figures to ponder...

        I know its Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] but the difference is not that great. About 172.8 cm average adult male for and 175.8 average adult male for US. This wikipedia article seems to be pretty well annotated.

        Japan's diet is much improved since the post WWII days where the stereotype of Japanese being short was spread through US culture. They were shorter due to worse diet.

        I have visited castles in Ireland, where my parents were born. Armor there looks like it was made

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      AFAIK, drug testing has no impact on your medical insurance rates. If your piss comes back positive you may lose your job or suffer some form of disciplinary action depending on your employers policies but I don't think it has any direct relationship to your medical insurance. Ditto for drinking -- why they even bother to ask is beyond me -- I just lie and put down that I don't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pthisis (27352)

      Do you smoke?
      Do you drink?
      Drug tests?

      Any of this sound familiar in a survey from your insurance application or work orientation pack?

      No. What kind of draconian company do you work at?

      I don't use drugs, but I'd definitely view it as a major red flag if a company was so un-trusting of its companies as to require them to pee in a cup on a regular basis. Maybe if it's a heavy security-clearance position I could see it (though I certainly know people who have admitted to occasional marijuana use and still gott

    • Re:already here (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:18AM (#23917511)

      Most countries with national health programs (mine included) don't have any restrictions on what you can do, eat, smoke, shoot up, jump off of or have sex with. As you point out, one country where the system does generally involve penalties for certain behaviour or conditions is the private system in the US.

  • by nodrogluap (165820) * on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#23916707) Homepage

    Should America adopt universal health insurance, could we live to see the same kind of individual
    health regulations imposed on us by the government?

    The question is specious: there are dozens of countries with public health care, but they don't have such crazy restrictions (including your neighbour, Canada). I chalk it up to a Japanese culture that accepts such a standard. And don't give me the fat-people-will-cost-me-more in a public system argument, because they are costing you more in a private system, unless fatter people at your work pay more for their insurance plan...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "The question is specious: there are dozens of countries with public health care, but they don't have such crazy restrictions"

      It's only specious by your definition of "crazy", which conveniently excludes the extensive property and privacy rights violations that come with government-run healthcare (or government-run anything). You have no choice not to be part of the system. Don't want healthcare? Would rather keep your productivity and use it elsewhere? Don't want to pay for others' healthcare or have a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JerryLove (1158461)

      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.

    • Americans are taller than the Japanese, and thus even relatively thinner people can have a larger waistline, and be considered fat. A better measurement, or goal might be percentage body fat or BMI (Cue the BMI holy wars of body builders).

      Yes, obese people (and smokers) take more sick time, have more health expenses, lower productivity, etc. I'm a physician, and public health is one of the courses we take, so obesity and smoking related problems a are HUGE percentage of health dollars spent.

      Now as far as B

    • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:08AM (#23917277) Journal

      There are those who say smokers cost society money and the same busybodies will talk about how fat people, too, cost money because of the health risks, but it's bunk. It's based on the stupidly false premise that one can live forever. The reason it's stupid is illustrated by my late granmother and her late son, my uncle.


      Uncle Bill smoked four packs of Kools every day since he was about twelve. He contracted emphysema and died in his early sixties.


      Uncle Bill, a WWII veteran, worked all his life and paid into Social Security from its inception until his death, and never collected a single SS benefit. He never went to a doctor on Mediacre's dime either - he didn't live long enough. He went to the hospital and died expensively, like everybody else.


      Grandma, a healthy nonsmoker, collected Social Security for almost forty years, going to the doctor almost every week, paid for by medicare. At age 99 she fell down in the nursinng home and broke her hip, spent a week in the hospital and died expensively, like everybody else.


      Smokers and fat people don't cost the medical system money; it's only the living that go to doctors.


      The way to solve Social Security is to get all the geezers to start smoking and going to Burger King again. Dead men don't collect Social Security.


      To say that smokers and fat people cost society is a big fat stinking baldfaced lie. Being a fat smoker doesn't send you to the doctor more often than thin nonsmokers, it kills you.

      • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:32AM (#23917807)
        Smokers and fat people don't cost the medical system money; it's only the living that go to doctors.

        That may apply in the last ten years of life, but it's certainly not true earlier. I'm 41. I have a friend who is the same age as me who is perhaps 70 to 100 pounds overweight. He is constantly at the doctor for this ailment and that, this ache and pain, he's always sick on it goes. If he gets an owie in his knee he's at the massage therapist, the chiropractor etc. etc. I'd say 95% of these issues would go away if he ate better and exercised.

      • 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.

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by antic (29198) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#23916713)

    Definitely sounds like a big problem.

  • by Rendo (918276) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:38AM (#23916717)
    What about the sumo wrestlers?! Don't they get a say!?
  • wow.. seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:39AM (#23916737) Homepage
    While "big boned" is a complete cop out, there are people with naturally larger waists... or worse yet, hormonal/glandular issues...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SithGod (810139)
      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 SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:48AM (#23916921) Journal

      Well, too much in this country is made about BMI [nhlbisupport.com]. If you're 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds you can be a chubby guy or a really fit guy or somewhere in between, but regardless the government classifies you as "overweight". You need to set a standard for health that doesn't deal with weird metrics like "waist size" or "body mass index".

      • by ePhil_One (634771)

        If you're 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds you can be a chubby guy or a really fit guy or somewhere in between, but regardless the government classifies you as "overweight". You need to set a standard for health that doesn't deal with weird metrics like "waist size" or "body mass index".

        When I hit the gym more vigorously, I had several body Fat tests run using a variety of methods, All were in rough agreement, that at 0% body fat (ie dead, 15% is normal, with marathon runners typically in the 7-9% range) I was still "overweight" by those insurance company charts, even rounding my height up. 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

        Problem is body fat measures aren't accurate enough to

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Just Some Guy (3352)

          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, h

      • BMI (Score:5, Interesting)

        by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:23AM (#23917585)

        Well, too much in this country is made about BMI.
        The problem is that BMI only scales with the square of height -- but at constant proportion, weight goes up as the cube.

        Shaquille O'Neil is not exactly fat at 7'1" and 325, but he has a BMI of 31.6 -- well into the "obese" range. A 5'2" woman would have to weigh 173 pounds to have the same BMI as Shaq -- and I know damn well that 173 and 5'2 is rolling fat.

        So tell us how useful the BMI is as a gauge of obesity again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nonsequitor (893813)

        Yeah, my spot on the BMI says I'm obese, I'm 6' & 250lbs. Except for the fact I go to the gym 3-5 times weekly, run 2-4 miles several times a week, and my actual body fat is around 14%, which is normal/slightly above average for those who are unfamiliar with the metric.

        However, there are some really out of shape skinny people. It hardly seems fair that someone who starves themselves and does not exercise is considered to be in better shape than people who eat healthy and weigh more.

        The only way to fai

  • 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)
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:41AM (#23916761) Journal

    Well wow, that's just dumb. Didn't they read that smokers and fat people cost the government less thank skinny people? [iht.com]. The study was done by the Dutch, and their healthcare is mandatory private (like people are talking about for the US) supplemented by socialized healthcare for people who are elderly or unable to otherwise function, so I'd think they'd have a pretty good idea of what the costs are.
    _
    Sure, the smokers and fat people have more health problems, but they have the decency to drop dead and not linger on the government dime, senile and incontinent, for a few extra decades.
    _
    I try to keep healthy, but when I hit the point where I'm not enjoying life much any more, I'm eating whatever the hell I want, taking up heroin. I'll be mainlining viagra II, and having sex with the kind of scary women that'd have sex with me! You see these articles coming out of Florida about old guys getting arrested for trying to buy drugs, just for the hell of it, and I don't understand what the problem is. This society is so fricking weird; god forbid you threaten your own ability to live to 110.
    _
    Life is one of those things where it's really about quality, not quantity. //Sorry about the stupid dashes. Goddamn system isn't taking my paragraph breaks.

  • by chill (34294) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:41AM (#23916767) Journal

    So, when do they extend this to a minimum female bust line?

    If you don't have at least a 34C, your employer provided insurance will mandate a boob job.

    I'm thinking the gov't inspector position on that law will be a highly coveted spot.

  • Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dave Tucker Online (1310703) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:41AM (#23916785) Homepage
    Once the government is in charge of health care, they have a responsibility to manage every part of your life which effects your health. You may only eat and drink healthy products. No more smoking. Safe cars only. No motorcycles! These will all be necessary to combat the increased cost that government control of health care will create.
  • Foreign workers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:43AM (#23916819) Homepage Journal

    Does this apply to foreign workers? For instance, if I were to go work in Japan for a year or two after I'm 40, would my employer be fined if I didn't shrink my 37 to a 33.5?

  • by tdvaughan (582870) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#23916849) Homepage
    I had the impression this sport was hugely popular over there (got that from reading Freakonomics). Will they make an exception for wrestlers?
  • Weird if it's true. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#23916857) Homepage

    How can you have a single upper-limit on waist sizes? Are all people in Japan the same height or are short people allowed to be fatter than tall ones?

    And how is the employer really responsible for their employees' weight? OK sure, there's going to be a bit of correllation between the general health attitude at your job and your own weight and from what I understand there's more of a culture for this thing in Japan but it still seems like a big leap to make in what a company is responsible for and subsequently what an employee has to answer to his employer about. Can constantly fat people be fired for costing their company too much in fines?

  • Oh please... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:46AM (#23916879) Homepage Journal

    "Fine on fat" has nothing to do with universal health coverage. It has everything to do with bad policy and even worse laws (not to mention stupid lawmakers).

    There are tons of countries in the world today with universal health coverage who don't engage in that kind of stupid law making.

    Then again, it is mostly accepted these days that being overweight is bad for you, in all kind of different ways, so maybe a tax on fat is not such a bad idea, especially if human fat is recycled into bio-fuel [dailymail.co.uk]. Fight Club, anyone?

    Besides, wait until they apply this law to the sumotori [scgroup.com]... and the howls of outrage from the sumo-loving japanese public... :-)

  • Dammit! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:48AM (#23916919) Homepage Journal
    Watashi wa rikishi desu, you insensitive clod!
  • Face Value (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zelocka (1152505) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:48AM (#23916923)
    I don't think this has anything to do with people being overweight at its core. This is more likely an anti western culture move to try to stop Japan from becoming more like America. There have been similar proposals made to try to make western style toilets more expensive so they will not be commonly used. Older Japanese are generally worried that Japan is losing its culture and that tends to lead to strange laws made in an attempt to stop the so called slide. The law itself is rather stupid idea though and I don't think it's likely to be in place 5 years down the road unless the penalty is a lot lighter than it sounds at face value.
  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:49AM (#23916947)

    How about some kind of mandatory test (every couple years or so) in which people are placed in various life-threatening situations involving wild animals, obstacle courses, etc.?

    Those who exhibit a reasonable level of fitness would have a reasonable chance of evading death, while those who "let themselves go" are much more likely to end up as food for some kind of large carnivore or as feedstock for an industrial wood chipper.

    Have the whole thing take place in some kind of a large controlled environment with lots of cameras and audio pickups, then sell advertising rights to the 24/7 broadcast of all the mayhem.

    All upside. No downside

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Altus (1034) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:01AM (#23917145) Homepage


    I was in japan about 9 years ago and I went back just a few months ago. I was amazed at the difference. There were far more people that I would categorize as overweight. No where near as many as in America and nobody that appeared to be obese, but it was quite a shift in a decade.

    To go along with that I noticed that there were far more fast food places and unlike my first trip, restaurants did not list the calories on items the way they had in the past.

    On the other hand I noticed that smoking was down and there were more non smoking areas (including on the streets of Tokyo) but those regulations were often ignored.

  • 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.
  • Athletes??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mini_razor (1306073) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:04AM (#23917189)
    Surely that counts out virtually most athletes in sports such as Weightlifting, Rugby Union, Shotput, Discus and many many more sports in which the atheletes are likely to be semi pro and have to have a 9 - 5 to help support themselves financially. Let alone Sumo Wrestling which is what football is to us Brits! Thats real football by the way to all you yanks :-p. You can be very healthy and very muscular and have a waist well above 33.5, I know a guy whose a semi professional Rugby Union player who has a 42 inch waist and a 55 inch chest, and is fitter than 99% of people on the street! It should be done on proper BMI (Body Mass Index), not including just height and weight as most do, but a real BMI includes skin fold measurements and takes into account percentage body fat and needs to be carried out by a qualified professional for the results to be accurate. If your gonna introduce a law which has monetary fines attatched to it at least make it fair!
  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:32AM (#23917819)

    Many insurance companies give people physicals and tend to cherry pick the best and most healthy individuals. With a universal system this would be reduced a great bit so we would probably see less regulations on peoples life style. I support universal health care but not these kinds of regulations. Education is a part of the solution, helping people understand how to eat a health diet. Ironically, it is americans workaholic busy lifestyle that leaves little time for exercise. If we gave people better pay, shorter work days and more vacation time, that would lead to a healthier population. The better pay would also mean better food. Many people eat a largely carbohydrate diet because that is the cheapest but that can lead to obesity. I think there is a lot of opposition to higher pay shorter work weeks and universal health care since it deconsolidates wealth and increases the overall well being of the general population but gets in the way of a few rich elites hoarding vast wealth.

  • by HairyCanary (688865) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:56AM (#23918361)

    If we are going to take this route, let's at least do it right.

    The point is to penalize unhealthy people, correct? There are studies which show pretty conclusively that the healthiest people are the ones which are slightly over the 'ideal' weight. Folks carrying a bit of extra weight (read: normal) live longer than folks who maintain that beautiful body that TV insists you should have.

    So, let's penalize the thin people too. If their lifestyle is as unhealthy as the fat folks, why exempt them?

  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @12:04PM (#23918539) Homepage Journal

    ...when you're big in Japan.

  • by IronChef (164482) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @01:46PM (#23921045) Homepage

    If you don't take care of your body, and you become an expensive data point in your insurance system, you raise the premiums for everyone else. We all seem to generally agree on that. We disagree on what, if anything, should be done to make the system more "fair."

    Likewise, if you don't raise your kid right and he becomes a murdering thug, you lower the quality of life for everyone else. Should your performance as a parent be judged, fined, taxed, regulated too? The societal impact of poor parenting is at least as great as that of too many cheeseburgers.

    Personally, I will grudgingly pay for Mr. Unhealthy's insurance, and I will sadly let the person next door loose a brood of poorly socialized amoral goons on the world, because I think the alternative--trying to fix things--will end up being worse.

  • by iamghetto (450099) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @05:02PM (#23924371) Homepage

    The biggest crime that fat people commit is the stealing of time from us normal folks.

    As you may or may not know, gravity slows down time. Gravity is the product of mass. Their larger than average masses steals a larger than average portion of time from you as you pass through their (considerable) area of influence.

    I'm walking and gravity is constant; normal; time is passing. Then I attempt to squeeze around this fat person because they're too slow. To the fat person, they're walking at a normal speed, but their time operates slowers than ours so relative to us and the natural, they're in fact walking slower.

    So as I pass them, the grip of their massive gravity slows down the space-time I have to walk through to pass them. Even though it seems like it only took me 1 second to walk past them, 1.x seconds elapsed in the real world outside the gravity of the fat person.

    In affect, the fat person STOLE X amount of time from me!!!

    You can't get that back.

    This phenomenon also accounts for fat people having lower IQs (just google it). There answers always take longer to formulate because their time is slowed down relative to ours. (assuming you're not fat)

    The time-differential between obese and non-obese people is accountable for countless things.

    You also might notice that the Japanese appear to be smarter than Americans. And potentially more efficient and harder workings. You'll also notice that per capita they're skinnier. Giving them more relative-time in a day to accomplish the same tasks.

    It wouldn't surprise if the American day is actually 23.5 hours compared to the 24 hour day the rest of the world enjoys.

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