In 2008, Japan took drastic measures in an attempt to combat obesity. Funny enough, Japan is not within the top 10 most obese nations (in fact its probably the leanest industrialized country! For the list and more click here), but it’s making sure to never get there either.
Forget Tom Cruise, this is THE mission impossible – with over 50 million waistlines to measure, this is quite the undertaking! These efforts have been put in place to curb the growth of metabolic syndrome in Japan, to reduce the overweight population, and, of course, to cut health care costs. I don’t necessarily agree that there should be financial sanctions and that an entire nation needs to abide by waist measurements that are a bit extreme. Mainly because we don’t measure “overweight” or “obese” in those absolute terms. Factors like height, weight, body frame, muscle and fat mass etc.. all play a role in distinguishing between one body and the next. However, I do agree with a national law promoting healthier food options and incorporating exercise into work schedule. I have heard of international companies that offer their employees reduced or free gym memberships because on the long run, that’s actually cheaper than covering an open heart surgery for example. I should mention that throughout my readings, its been said that this is not really a law, but more of a guideline for companies to take care of their employees, but isn’t really intended to punish or sanction anyone. So we can view this more as a national anti-obesity campaign. I’m personally really interested in knowing more from anyone who is living or has lived there before.
Nonetheless,I think a good lesson here is to make this personal. You don’t need a law forcing you to get up and move around your office or at the desk for a few minutes a couple of times during the day. Stretch, take 15 mins off your lunch break and just walk! Pack your healthy lunch for the entire week over the weekend, and leave no excuse for fast food meals anymore!
More lessons to learn from this? The only reason that Japan has become worried about obesity is due to an increased consumption of the “American diet” which consists of steaks and hamburgers, fries, along with that cherry-on-top soft drink. That’s because when you compare this to the traditional Japanese cuisine of fish and rice with green tea – you get a nice healthy carbohydrate, protein, omega 3, antioxidant-rich diet, versus the heart-clogging fried over sized burger. Not to mention that if you’re eating your fish and rice with chopsticks, you’re going to be eating it much slower than with a fork, and at lesser quantities.
Your thoughts on this?