Illegal to be fat in Japan

Hey, Thoughty2 here. Japan is probably the most health-conscious country in the world. They have the highest life expectancy, the most centenarians per capita and they eat sooo much fish. As a country, Japan has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain its reputation as the World’s healthiest place. For instance, the vast majority of Japanese companies make their employees do mandatory exercise for half-an-hour every morning before they sit down to work. Studies show this not only helps physical fitness, but also keeps employees mentally sound and improves productivity. But Japan doesn’t have a health craze like Los Angeles, you won’t find any seaweed and dust diet-fads here. A healthy-lifestyle is just a deep-rooted part of the Japanese Culture. But with the influx of Western fast food Japan’s healthy outlook is showing signs of crumbling, under a mountain of melty-plastic-cheese. And in a country where only 3% of the population are overweight, tiny when compared to Australia at 60%, those few people who are obese, tend to stick out like a sore thumb. It’s becoming a major problem, because so few Japanese are overweight there’s a lot of prejudice towards the not-so-small minority. It’s common for overweight individuals to be bullied in the workplace and even cast out of their family, just for packing a few extra pounds. Normally governments combat obesity with hopeless advertising campaigns and even taxing junk food. But Japan went the extra mile and simply made it illegal to be fat. In 2008 Japan’s lawmakers passed a law called the “Metabo Law” which is short for metabolic syndrome. You may be watching this thinking Japan has finally lost it, but the Metabo law isn’t as extreme as it seems. You won’t be locked up just for being overweight. So what is the punishment for committing the heinous crime of eating too many cheeseburgers? Seppuku? No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Under the Metabo law every Japanese citizen between the age of 40 to 75 years-old, that’s 44 per cent of the population, has to have a mandatory check of their waistline every year. The government states that the legal maximum waist circumference for men is 35.4 inches, whereas for women it’s only 31.5 inches. So this law is basically a massive slap in the face to guys who like curvy women. To put these insanely restrictive numbers into perspective, In Japan it’s considered gross and illegal to have a waist over 35 inches as a male, whereas the average male waist size in America is 40 inches. If during their annual checkup, a citizen is found to have a larger waistline than the government imposed limit, they are required by law to attend regular counselling sessions, because you know, according to Japan if you’re fat it must be because you’re mentally unstable. And you have to regularly consult a dietitian to discuss dietary options. Whilst the penalty for individuals focuses on rehabilitation, there are heavy fines for companies that don’t follow the guidelines. Under Metabo law companies are required to monitor the waistlines and general health of all their employees and encourage regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. If a company is found the have employees with illegal waistlines they must pay heavy fines to the government until everyone in their business has shed their excess baggage. In fact, fines for companies can be as high as $19 million dollars, just because someone in the office is a greedy bugger. To avoid these fines companies have resorted to handing out so-called “Metabo Towels” to all their employees, which is a towel with a built-in tape measure, so employees can keep a check on their waistline when they step out the shower each morning. Those crazy Japanese may seem, well, crazy. But this controversial law has worked, obesity rates have dropped significantly since its inception in 2008. Well done Japan, but seriously guys, you didn’t even have an obesity problem in the first place. Thanks for watching.

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