Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Japan Penalizes Employers for Obese Workers

Who says governments can't get involved in the obesity fight?

Not Japan.

This month all Japanese employees over the age of 40 will undergo a mandatory "flab check" to ascertain their risk of developing metabolic syndrome - the constellation of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and insulin resistance.

The cut off for men will be 85cm or 33.5 inches (I couldn't find the cut off for women).

If you're found to be wider than the cut off you'll be given an exercise and diet plan and in some cases you might be referred to a doctor.

Japanese firms will be required to cut the number of overweight workers and their dependants by 10% by 2012 and those firms who fail to do so will face surcharges of up to 10% on contributions to a welfare fund for the elderly.

My take?

While I'm all for government involvement in obesity treatment and prevention, I don't think this is really the way to go. Penalties are not something I would ever want to see imposed and while one might argue they're penalizing the corporations not the individuals, I'll be curious to see what Japan's unemployment numbers do in 2012 when a bunch of obese folks get layed off before their corporations get penalized.

What do you think?

[Hat tip to my sister Michal and her colleague Josh]