Associated Press
Keizo Takemi, Japan's former vice
minister of Health, Labour and Welfare

Japan Institutes ‘Fat Fines’

June 30, 2008 12:53 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Trying to deter citizens from becoming overweight, Japan has enacted laws requiring weight loss and punishable by fine.

30-Second Summary

Japan is working to slim down its population by regulating waistlines.

Under the new plan, everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 will have their waistlines measured during annual checkups. By law, men’s waists can’t be larger than 33.5 inches, and women’s midsections can’t exceed 35.4 inches.

Those who aren’t slim enough, and who have weight-related health problems, will receive dieting guidance if they don’t lose weight after three months, with more “education” offered after six months, if needed.

Prolonged weight troubles can result in fines to a person’s employer.

Japan’s Ministry of Health believes its plan will help control health care costs for its aging population, most of whom receive health care from either public or employment-related services.

“They’d never get away with that” in the United States, said Dr. Keith Ayoob of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “I’m sure the intent is to get a healthier society, but I’m not sure this is the best way to go.”

According to ABC News, “fixating on body size can be potentially dangerous” because it can tempt people to try “drastic weight reduction measures” leading to eating disorders.

In the United States, which has done considerable research on obesity prevention, obesity rates still appear to be on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control says there is a national goal to reduce obesity rates among adults to less than 15 percent by 2010, however.

Headline Link: Watching waistlines

Reactions: Would mandatory weight loss work in America?

Related Topic: Examining obesity

Reference: Obesity resources


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