It’s an interesting policy idea on how to beat the obesity epidemic. Just make it illegal to be overweight.
You might smirk at the idea as unrealistic – but in a world where 500 million people are obese one county has done just that.
Pack on the pounds – into the slammer!
(Well not quite…)
In Japan, lawmakers passed what’s now known as the “metabo law” in 2008.
It is not a country you normally associate with obesity. In fact, the OECD ranks Japan with only 3% population obesity – one of the least obese developed countries.
Compare this with Australia that has around 60% of Australian adults classified as overweight or obese. More than 25% of these fell into the obese category – that’s 3.3 million Australians.
But a growing concern in Japan over the spiralling health costs of an ageing population – which would only be greater if afflicted by metabolic syndrome – caused the Government to act.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of such symptoms as problems with cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. It is likely to eventually lead to a stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
The Japanese policy, called ‘Metabo law’ is, in theory, simple – stay below a government-mandated waistline or face the consequences.
It is policed through an annual mandatory check up of the waist measurements of 40-75 year-olds – that’s over 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.
Both local governments and employers require the test.
In the test both men and women are required to stay under a waist circumference of 33.5 (85cm) and 35.4 (90cm) inches.
The penalties for failure to comply aren’t particularly harsh for the individual. They are required to attend a combination of counselling sessions, monitoring through phone and email correspondence, and motivational support.