This Is Why You’re Too Fat for Japan


As lawmakers, policy wonks, and doctors in the U.S. worry themselves over our country’s ballooning waistline, the Japanese have found a more direct, if less politically correct, method of regulating weight gain: Last year, the government set the maximum waist size for men over the age of 40 at 33.5 inches (85 centimeters) and 40 and older women at 35.4 inches (90 centimeters). According to an article in Globalpost, the so-called “metabo” law was designed to save money by decreasing the health care costs associated with metabolic syndrome. Although Japan’s one of the skinniest industrialized nations on the planet, with only a 5 percent obesity rate (ours is 35 percent), rates of diabetes have increased in recent years. The government’s move primarily affects companies whose employees don’t make the cut, as it were, during their annual physicals: If a company has too many overweight employees, it must pay higher rates to its insurance company. Which is decidedly less horrifying than the specter of police skulking outside of ramen bars and izakayas, waiting to nab patrons for going over their legal limit.