Metabo, o-ba-ue-to, kajuu, overgrown girth!

Oh no, when that happens to the Japanese, they run a risk that exceeds far more than the mere embarrassment of trouser buttons popping open! They run the risk of being singled out as ‘obese’ in their workplace! The world is aware that the Japanese are an extremely hard working people; they don’t shirk their work and need not look over their shoulder in worry that the employer is watching them. But now, due to the new law in effect the past two months, employers will monitor the waistlines of employees, to ensure they remain within stipulated guidelines; if not, the Japanese government would penalize companies in Japan on account of their ‘obese’ employees! Metabo is their colloquial nomenclature for being overweight, almost an inevitable consequence of the dreaded condition – metabolic syndrome.

In Japan, a man’s waistline must not exceed 33.5 inches; and ladies must ensure that they do not bulge beyond 35.4 inches. Should they fail to remain within this range, their employer would be penalized. This law applies to men and women in the age-group 40-74 years, but employers are following the “catching ’em young” maxim; they’re watching every employee in the 30+ age-range! Of course, for women in their perimenopause, and menopause stages, it may even be a double whammy – employer’s watchful eyes on the middle-age spread compounding the anxiety – what a killer! Metabo education is being sponsored by employers for not only their employees, but is being extended to their families as well.

Although many of us may not have previously heard the term Metabo, we’re aware of the collection of factors that increase the risk of cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes. We’re also conscious of rising costs of health-care in the US, with the rising geriatric population. Obesity even among teenagers is high when compared to previous generations. Although there are a few who do workout or go for brisk walks to arrest the onset of this problem, millions in the US are at risk.

While the government’s tact in Japan does seem like an extremely severe measure to arrest obesity, measuring waistlines cannot be as devastating as the consequences of obesity, when it strikes a nation. If anything, without targeted time-lines to curb obesity; without heightened levels about health-consciousness and active campaigning for anti-smoking; without effective implementation of laws and appropriate taxation to put an end to smoking, the overall health of the general population in the US will certainly go downhill… there’s no doubt on that front. If it sounds like a tall order, rather that, than a nation with a fat, unhealthy population!

Personally, I also believe that added to this should be the ban on growth related hormones in cattle-feed, and a re-visit to all the issues concerning the way crops are grown in the US! Perhaps if agriculture in this country went organic all the way, obesity could be nipped in the bud, and with it, stem the stupendous costs of health-care, health insurance, and the penalties we all seem to pay for the follies of the few in the FDA, the government, and the people who pass laws which seem to serve the interests of no one but the lobbying industries who benefit from the woes of the people who must battle against biology, or battle against their bulge.

Some useful links:

Not just a big fat joke

A double whammy

Metabo – Who is at risk?

A War on Obesity, Not the Obese by Jeffrey M Friedman


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