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[None of their business] Japan measuring people's waistlines

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Isabel, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Isabel

    Isabel Member

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    Have you guys heard about this yet? Alarming...


    Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions


    By NORIMITSU ONISHI
    Published: June 13, 2008
    AMAGASAKI, Japan — Japan, a country not known for its overweight people, has undertaken one of the most ambitious campaigns ever by a nation to slim down its citizenry.

    Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.

    But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he said.

    Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.

    Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

    To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.

    The ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society’s ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today. Most Japanese are covered under public health care or through their work. Anger over a plan that would make those 75 and older pay more for health care brought a parliamentary censure motion Wednesday against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the first against a prime minister in the country’s postwar history.

    But critics say that the government guidelines — especially the one about male waistlines — are simply too strict and that more than half of all men will be considered overweight. The effect, they say, will be to encourage overmedication and ultimately raise health care costs.

    Yoichi Ogushi, a professor at Tokai University’s School of Medicine near Tokyo and an expert on public health, said that there was “no need at all” for the Japanese to lose weight.

    “I don’t think the campaign will have any positive effect. Now if you did this in the United States, there would be benefits, since there are many Americans who weigh more than 100 kilograms,” or about 220 pounds, Mr. Ogushi said. “But the Japanese are so slender that they can’t afford to lose weight.”

    Mr. Ogushi was actually a little harder on Americans than they deserved. A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that the average waist size for Caucasian American men was 39 inches, a full inch lower than the 40-inch threshold established by the International Diabetes Federation. American women did not fare as well, with an average waist size of 36.5 inches, about two inches above their threshold of 34.6 inches. The differences in thresholds reflected variations in height and body type from Japanese men and women.

    Comparable figures for the Japanese are sketchy since waistlines have not been measured officially in the past. But private research on thousands of Japanese indicates that the average male waistline falls just below the new government limit.

    That fact, widely reported in the media, has heightened the anxiety in the nation’s health clinics.

    In Amagasaki, a city in western Japan, officials have moved aggressively to measure waistlines in what the government calls special checkups. The city had to measure at least 65 percent of the 40- to 74-year-olds covered by public health insurance, an “extremely difficult” goal, acknowledged Midori Noguchi, a city official.

    When his turn came, Mr. Nogiri, the flower shop owner, entered a booth where he bared his midriff, exposing a flat stomach with barely discernible love handles. A nurse wrapped a tape measure around his waist across his belly button: 33.6 inches, or 0.1 inch over the limit.

    “Strikeout,” he said, defeat spreading across his face.

    The campaign started a couple of years ago when the Health Ministry began beating the drums for a medical condition that few Japanese had ever heard of — metabolic syndrome — a collection of factors that heighten the risk of developing vascular disease and diabetes. Those include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and high levels of blood glucose and cholesterol. In no time, the scary-sounding condition was popularly shortened to the funny-sounding metabo, and it has become the nation’s shorthand for overweight.

    The mayor of one town in Mie, a prefecture near here, became so wrapped up in the anti-metabo campaign that he and six other town officials formed a weight-loss group called “The Seven Metabo Samurai.” That campaign ended abruptly after a 47-year-old member with a 39-inch waistline died of a heart attack while jogging.

    Still, at a city gym in Amagasaki recently, dozens of residents — few of whom appeared overweight — danced to the city’s anti-metabo song, which warned against trouser buttons popping and flying away, “pyun-pyun-pyun!”

    “Goodbye, metabolic. Let’s get our checkups together. Go! Go! Go!

    Goodbye, metabolic. Don’t wait till you get sick. No! No! No!”

    The word metabo has made it easier for health care providers to urge their patients to lose weight, said Dr. Yoshikuni Sakamoto, a physician in the employee health insurance union at Matsu****a, which makes Panasonic products.

    Even before Tokyo’s directives, Matsu****a had focused on its employees’ weight during annual checkups. Last summer, Akio Inoue, 30, an engineer carrying 238 pounds on a 5-foot-7 frame, was told by a company doctor to lose weight or take medication for his high blood pressure. After dieting, he was down to 182 pounds, but his waistline was still more than one inch over the state-approved limit.

    With the new law, Matsu****a has to measure the waistlines of not only its employees but also of their families and retirees. As part of its intensifying efforts, the company has started giving its employees “metabo check” towels that double as tape measures.

    “Nobody will want to be singled out as metabo,” Kimiko Shigeno, a company nurse, said of the campaign. “It’ll have the same effect as non-smoking campaigns where smokers are now looked at disapprovingly.”

    Companies like Matsu****a must measure the waistlines of at least 80 percent of their employees. Furthermore, they must get 10 percent of those deemed metabolic to lose weight by 2012, and 25 percent of them to lose weight by 2015.

    NEC, Japan’s largest maker of personal computers, said that if it failed to meet its targets, it could incur as much as $19 million in penalties. The company has decided to nip metabo in the bud by starting to measure the waistlines of all its employees over 30 years old and by sponsoring metabo education days for the employees’ families.

    Some experts say the government’s guidelines on everything from waistlines to blood pressure are so strict that meeting, or exceeding, those targets will be impossible. They say that the government’s real goal is to shift health care costs onto the private sector.

    Dr. Minoru Yamakado, an official at the Japan Society of Ningen Dock, an association of doctors who administer physical exams, said he endorsed the government’s campaign and its focus on preventive medicine.

    But he said that the government’s real priority should be to reduce smoking rates, which remain among the highest among advanced nations, in large part because of Japan’s powerful tobacco lobby.

    “Smoking is even one of the causes of metabolic syndrome,” he said. “So if you’re worried about metabo, stopping people from smoking should be your top priority.”

    Despite misgivings, though, Japan is pushing ahead.

    Kizashi Ohama, an official in Matsuyama, a city that has also acted aggressively against metabo, said he would leave the debate over the campaign’s merits to experts and health officials in Tokyo.

    At Matsuyama’s public health clinic, Kinichiro Ichikawa, 62, said the government-approved 33.5-inch male waistline was “severe.” He is 5-foot-4, weighs only 134 pounds and knows no one who is overweight.

    “Japan shouldn’t be making such a fuss about this,” he said before going off to have his waistline measured.

    But on a shopping strip here, Kenzo Nagata, 73, a toy store owner, said he had ignored a letter summoning him to a so-called special checkup. His waistline was no one’s business but his own, he said, though he volunteered that, at 32.7 inches, it fell safely below the limit. He planned to disregard the second notice that the city was scheduled to mail to the recalcitrant.

    “I’m not going,” he said. “I don’t think that concerns me.”



    ****************

    I was disturbed that the government would consider people's weight their business, enough to measure everyone and punish the overweight. Not to mention they use one measurement to fit everyone regardless of body type. It's more in the trend these days of making people's bodies everyone else's business. :( Some people have trouble fitting those ideals and will just face social pressure and have a reason to be depressed - how's all that stress going to help the society? Aren't there more positive ways to encourage fitness?
     
  2. Royals Ego

    Royals Ego Member

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    this totally needs to go in affect in the USA

    but not just for the elderly, ages 4 and up

    control obesity
     
  3. percicles

    percicles Contributing Member

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    After a certain point it becomes a national health problem and should be combated as such.

    Nobody likes a fatty!!!

    Do Sumo wrestlers get an exemption?
     
  4. yaoluv

    yaoluv Member

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    i for one feel that the enigma of japan running into peoples waists is understated in todays society as we here in us feel that waist is a private public matter and this is to be understood because of our culture and beliefs leading to a feeling of this way however it is not truly private because obviously waist size can be construed as elephants have wastes as well and i dont truly believe that a waist can be completely hidden except for if one were to where no belt or maybe a large overcoat in the style of some older people and or cultures such as maybe the eskimos or inuits as some may call them in history but the belt can be hidden but the number of holes used may not be so as for it to be public it is hard to say for sure how one may feel upon this matter but if you may be less than comfortable one would maybe recommend that you not travel to such countries where your waste size would be public and maybe you should not be able to hear or see others wastes such as if everyone wore blinders and then there would be peace because wastes could not be seen and would be private as they ought to be but who can really say what the ideal waste size would be in my opinion it is very hard to say for sure what size waste would be ideal it depends on many factors such as hereditary diet amongst other things that one may not be privy to the information to submit i feel like this information is unknowable and maybe be harmful to the person knowing especially if there are samurais on the loose which have been known to be used in ancient feudal systems where one could make the argument that japan and other east asian communities feel the same way about waist size because of the dietary needs of the peoples of these communities are different than the waist size needs of lesser valued communities in the region so it is hard for a samurai to say for sure if that would be the case or if there is some other element at work that would make it difficult and the information once there gleaned would make life difficult for some waist size people that need help living there day to day life in front where the news goes to make bob go to school but i dont think this would be fair to these various civilizations in the past sushi has a small waste but that does not stop sushi from being held to the same standard of public measurement except in some marketplace where to for buy and then when time stands still and sushi no longer exist the moon will come over the hill and the people and fish will be liberated by the one true moon and then they will rejoice in their knowledge but that is neither here nore there nor anywhere for that matter that is proper discussion on these internet web message boards such as these particularly discussing basketball and the yao ming but i am happy that we as a people can publicly discuss pressing issues like waist size and others that make people happy or sad depending on what the facts and the mood might be such that a happy person when measured may remain happy but a sad person would obviously be very sad and this is not what one must say for sure if time would be there.
     
  5. Surfguy

    Surfguy Contributing Member

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    This sends a bad message for tourism. It makes me wonder how tourists are looked at or treated just because they are overweight. It doesn't seem like it would be comfortable to visit a place where they measure citizen's waistlines. Leads one to form some conclusions about visiting such a place and how one will be received...just because of their waistline. Not really a place I would care to visit.
     
  6. meggoleggo

    meggoleggo Contributing Member

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    I'm kinda conflicted on this - I agree that a nationwide health/fitness program would be incredibly beneficial for this country... Though there's no real way to implement such a program without someone crying foul.
     
  7. conquistador#11

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    I hate when schools get involved. Earlier this year, infidels at memorial elementary had a talk with my sister on my nephew's 'weight issues'. I thought the same thing... None of their business! He is a little chubby but not obese. grr!
     
  8. CoolGuy

    CoolGuy Contributing Member

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    Woman have larger waists than men???
     
  9. JumpMan

    JumpMan Contributing Member
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    Awesome.
     
  10. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Could you make your sentence longer? It's a bit short and I don't think you fully fleshed out your thoughts.
     
  11. Major Malcontent

    Major Malcontent Contributing Member

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    Unsurprising, last minority its o.k to make fun of openly. Because of this pretense to "being concerned about their health"

    Nobody Likes a fatty? Could someone have said "Nobody likes a (fill in racial slur)" on this board and have it be o.k. with everyone.

    I don't have a problem with people not wanting to be fat themselves or not wanting to date fat people. There are plenty of dates to be had for us "fatties" believe me I know.

    I tell you what though, I guarantee you that people who are obsessed with bashing fat people, the condition of being fat, and public enemy number 1 fat people who don't hate themselves probably consider their trim waistlines a "major accomplishment" and not the accident of genetics it usually is. This would seem to indicate to me, that they haven't accomplished a whole helluva lot else in their lives.
     
  12. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Damn, the bolded part sounds a little cryptic, doesn't it?

    I have visions of the drive-in theatre in Red Dawn...
     
  13. playlife

    playlife Member

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    Who the hell bothers to read this. I tried but gave up after the first word (I couldn't say i gave up after the first sentence).
     
  14. gucci888

    gucci888 Contributing Member

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    Agreed. Japan has the highest life expectancy average so whatever they're doing, it's working. The lifestyle we have here in the U.S. is horrible, obesity is a problem but like you said, there's no real way to deal with it w/o people being offended.
     
  15. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Are they a minority? I think fat people are 50-60% of the population now.

    Just look around, wheverever you are. Most people are fat.
     
  16. XxShadyPinkxX

    XxShadyPinkxX Contributing Member

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    Hayesfan faints.


    Anyways, it seems they have good intentions. They're just implementing the wrong strategy.
     
    #16 XxShadyPinkxX, Jun 13, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  17. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
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    Meth is a hell of a drug.
     
  18. SWTsig

    SWTsig Contributing Member

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    gonna have to go ahead and disagree with ya there, chet. first of all, you can't equate being overweight with being born into a particular race. while one can most definitely be predisposed to becoming/being born fat, it is also something that can be controlled. no such luck with race.

    if you're perfectly happy being fat, fine by me. but dont tell us we cant poke fun... if i have no problem making fun of meatheads, you better believe i have no problem making fun of the obese people i see wolfing down cheeseburgers and fried foods when i go out.

    granted, i'm a$$hole so my views may differ from most others.
     
  19. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Agreed.
     
  20. Lynus302

    Lynus302 Contributing Member

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    Dammit!

    You beat me to it.
     

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