Monday, June 16, 2008
Last year, I read the book "Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat," which touted how healthy the Japanese diet and lifestyle is. Compared with 34 percent of American women, just 3 percent of Japanese women had a body mass index of 30 or higher in 2005. (A BMI of 30 is the bottom of the "obesity" category.)
The Japanese, with a diet rich in vegetables, seafood and rice, are infinitely healthier... and their government wants to keep them that way.
"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." Read more at NYT.com
. (The waist limit is 33.5 for males and 35.4 inches for women, thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation.)
It's an interesting tactic for getting people to slim down, and Japan provides socialized medicine for its citizens, so I understand why the government cares so much. (And no one will be fined, jailed or punished in any other way. Those whose waists exceed the limits will receive "dieting guidance.")
What do you think? Do you think that a government should intervene in health matters? Is health a personal matter?