Whether we admit it or not, but at some point in time we all have been worried about our
expanding waistlines. And to achieve that ‘fit body’, we took crash diets, healthy snacking, exercising and what not. But, you can also get a ‘fit body’ like Sonam Kapoor or Hrithik Roshan by simply getting a visa to Japan.
Sound weird, but in Japan, it is illegal to be overweight. Yes, you read that right!
In 2008, the Japanese government brought a ‘Metabo Law
’ into effect with the goal to reduce the overweight population of the country by 2015. Under this law, men and women between the age group of 40 and 74, have to get their waistlines examine once a year. This means the waistlines of more than 56 million people, or around 44 percent of the population, would be measured.
Japan has prescribed the maximum waistline limits as 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.
It is identical to measurements established in 2006 by the International Diabetes Federation
But, what happens if someone exceeds the limit?
Though it is not a criminal offence, the person, whose waistline is above the limit, will be given dieting guidance if he or she doesn’t lose weight after three months. If the person is overweight even after six months, he or she will be given re-education. However, the norms are different for companies and local governments. If they fail to reduce their number of overweight employees, they will be imposed with financial penalties. NEC, Japan’s largest maker of PCs, said that it could incur $ 19 million in penalties
if it failed to meet its targets.
But, why does Japan, the slimmest industrialized nation, need such a strict law?
The government wants to ward off metabolic syndrome and save its money. According to the government statistics, Japan has some of the world’s lowest rates of obesity — less than 5 percent, compared to nearly 35 percent for the United States, where people here on average have gotten heavier in the past three decades.
Moreover, Japan is also aging faster than any other country because of long life spans and low birth rates.
The country’s healthy ministry argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and heart strokes in check.
A nice strategy, though. But will it actually help?
Yoichi Ogushi, a professor at Tokai University’s School of Medicine, said that there was no need at all for the Japanese people 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. But the Japanese are so slender that they can’t afford to lose weight,” Ogushi said. On the other hand, James Kondo, president of the Health Policy Institute Japan, believes that the Metabo law is a good thing. He said, “Due to the check up, there is an increased public awareness on the issue of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Since fighting obesity is a habit underlined by heightened awareness, this is a good thing.” Whether Japanese people like it or not, many of them are adhering to the law. And, what’s more? They even have a song for it!
In a gym at Amagasaki, people have come up with an ‘anti-metabo song’.
“Goodbye, metabolic. Let’s get our checkups together. Go! Go! Go! Goodbye, metabolic. Don’t wait till you get sick. No! No! No!”
Interestingly, Japan is not the only country
that has strict laws regarding overweight population.
New Zealand doesn’t allow overweight immigrants to obtain a visa. Dubai pays people to lose weight.
But, will the law be able to deliver the desired result? Only time will tell.