Japan Fines 'Fat' People, Companies Must Measure Waist Lines of Employees

And 'fat' here is most definitely a relative term.

The U.S. usually steals the headlines when it comes to stories about being overweight. Obesity in the U.S. is no joke for sure.As I wrote a few months ago, 60 percent of adults and 16 percent of children are obese. But today, the news is all about Japan. Japan?!

A CNN news story (watch below) is reporting that Japan has issued new guidelines. "Companies and local governments must now measure waist lines of all employees and family members over the age of 40,"they reported. Apparently if you don't make the cut, your company can be fined massively and will get increased health premiums. The company the reporter profiled, NEC, is facing 19 million dollars in penalties if employees don't slim down.

And what's overweight by Japanese standards? Men with waists over 33.5 inches and women over 35.5 inches. I can't even imagine issuing fines for Americans under those guidelines!

While the story didn't go into a great deal of depth, the reporter blamed recent weight gain in Japan on U.S. foods. Standing outside a McDonald's, she compared the typical Japanese meal (vegetables, miso soup, and fish) at 600 calories to the MickeyD's burger, fries, and coke, which comes in at 1300 calories. Woops, sorry guys. I guess it wasn't enough to screw up the health of everyone in our own country. Yeah for globalization.

It would seem to me that there is both a good and a bad side to this.


Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet.