Saturday, June 14, 2008

Big Brother is measuring you

"I had my annual physical last week," my friend told me. "They measured my waistline, and apparently I have metabolic syndrome. Everybody in my department has it. We've all been given medicine."

I'd love to know what this medicine is. Diet pills? Is half of Japan going to be speeding from taking too many diet pills? How exciting! (Or have diet pills changed since I was a university student and I knew people addicted to them?)

'Metabo,' or 'Metabolic syndrome' is the new politically correct word in Japan for 'fat.' Metabo is a huge thing right now. The government has launched a campaign against it. My friend is lucky she is not being sent to reeducation classes.

My friend is not fat. She is a slim, healthy person who walks a lot. The required waist size is not adjusted for height or body type, which seems odd to me. Can it really be true that every woman should have the same waist measurement? We decided that this whole thing was a giant plot by the pharmaceutical companies and the government to make money from a non-existent problem.

According to what I've read and heard every employee has to be checked. I have not been checked, however. Perhaps this is just another of those things where part-time workers (about a third of employees in Japan, I think) are going to slip through the net. No health insurance benefits, no national pension, no holiday pay, and no getting waistlines measured. For once I am pleased not to be included. (I just measured my waistline myself and I'm well under, but STILL. My waist measurement is nobody's business except my own.)

But I'm wondering – if you are a full-timer, and metabo is classified as such a huge problem, can you take time off work for it? 'My metabo is playing up' would be a lovely excuse for a sick day.


Miz UV said...

It definitely sounds like an invasion of privacy, though I do understand the motivation of the Japanese to keep their peeps from turning into blimps like we are. It's disgusting here how so many people are so fat -- and not just ten pounds or an extra inch to pinch, but HUGELY fat. And I'm not sure it's their "choice" anymore. I think people are prisoners of their genetics combined with a sedentary lifestyle that seems to be almost unescapable if you have an office job or professional career and a relentless campaign by advertisers to make money by fattening up everyone. Not only do they target horrible food at children, but then there's the weight-loss industry following up. But I don't know if taking pills is the answer -- I do remember trying some way back when and they did nothing. The only thing that works is to STOP EATING SO MUCH!

Miz UV said...

I forgot to say that it's extremely hard to stop eating so much, which goes back to my thing about most overweight peeps not having much choice.

Keera Ann Fox said...

The American problem is city planning based on the car. Suburban life is more sedentary simply because the car is needed for basic errands. Building communities where you can walk to the store or take a bus will get people moving more.

To answer a question, Badaunt, those studying metabolic syndrome (which can be a forerunner to diabetes) have found that an excess of fat on the belly is a risk factor. Best way to check for that is waist circumference since that sort of fat can exist even in a slender person (case in point: my own BMI is 23.8 (good) but waist is 32", which is the max. recommended for women according to European guidelines). The Japanese limits do seem strict.

kenju said...

LOL....I think they would tell you to quit eating and start exercising in order to whittle down the size of our waist. That's what tehy tell me all the time!

Gail said...

Wow! That's funny and sad at the same time.

My husband was caught off guard one day at his school when the principal walked up to him, pointed at his belly and pronounced, "Metabo!" Needless to say, he wasn't too happy about it.