Illegal To Be Overweight?

Obesity-waist circumference
Obesity-waist circumference | Source

So yes in Japan it is now illegal to be overweight. The government has drawn up laws that stipulate people need to be of a specific waist size or less. The law forces companies to have their employees waist sizes measured and if the employees who are overweight do not lose the weight then their company will be subject to heavy fines.

So what about those people who simply have obesity problems or those who simply can't afford over priced health foods? What seems the most likely course of action for companies that get fined because their employees have waistlines that are beyond what they are supposed to be? Does it not seem likely that companies will fire them? Of course even in Japan this would be against their job policies but then they would simply fire them claiming it was a different issue. What becomes the overall fate of obese people in this case? Do they simply get drummed out of the workforce completely. Unable to be able to work and then pushed into poverty by the government?

To me this is an enormous issue and seems to me that they are indirectly encroaching on people's personal rights and freedoms. Now I don't think that things are quite the same in Japan as they are in North America but the last time I checked Japan was supposed to be a democratic country. I have a difficult time imagining voters in Japan all of whom would be subjected to this law/punishment voting for such a thing to become law.

I know that if such a law was ever put forth here that it would be unlikely to ever see the light of day. If it did they would probably have to fire half of the known workforce. Personally I am not an obese man, I wouldn't even consider myself fat but I'm not a size 32 waist size, I don't think I ever was (about a 34 in high school) so even if it is determined by height, and other factors I don't know that I would fit into their idea of what my proper weight should be. With all due respect why should I, it's my body. I'm not property of the state.

Many may say that as a society we need to lose weight and live healthier and I agree. As I past out of my teens and entered my late 20s I began to notice changes in my body and now walk to work, take walks in the evening, try to eat healthier foods, more veggies, etc. I also would recommend to others to live a healthier lifestyle. But to be honest what I decide to do or not do for my own health is mine to decide and not the government's business. Any country claiming to be democratic should not be forcing their citizens to lose weight.

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Comments 55 comments

Insane Mundane profile image

Insane Mundane 4 years ago from Earth

Obesity is a widespread epidemic. If you were a heart surgeon, for example, you'd speak in a different tone!


Seek-n-Find profile image

Seek-n-Find 4 years ago from Illinois

Wow...that's quite interesting! Wouldn't it be better for them to simply make it easier for people to lose weight? Like free health club membership, 20-minute walking break, etc. I agree that government should be aware of unhealthy trends, but they should try to offer supportive solutions, not force people by threatening them with jobs--how effective is that? When I used to make more money at previous job, I maintained a better weight because I had more money for healthier, organic foods and more time for recreation. Making less money and having to work more has only made trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle more difficult. Thanks for writing--I shall SHARE.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Insane Mundane - perhaps, again though I do promote heathier living and losing weight. I simply think it is wrong for the government to dictate that, it is a violation of our personal rights.


Innuentendre profile image

Innuentendre 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

sumo wrestlers got a raw deal


Alexander Pease profile image

Alexander Pease 4 years ago from Maine

I was going to say, what will all the sumo wrestlers do? Great article, you definitely shined a light on something that I did not know before. I like that a video was included, confirming your story.

Voted up and great writing!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I am in complete agreement; once the government of any nation begins to regulate personal freedoms then freedoms become meaningless.


Mark Pitts profile image

Mark Pitts 4 years ago from United States

It is amazing what a government will decide it has the right to do. Especially since a government is an artificial construct of the people governed, at least at it's inception. I suppose all governments become the tools of the ones who see themselves as privilaged.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Seek-n-Find - I agree it is difficult to remain healthy sometimes. I think as you said endorsing and giving people ways of accomplishing it is a great idea, forcing them is not so much. Thanks for reading. I hope you will not have to work so long that you can't remain healthy that would be pretty harsh.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Innuentendre - that's something I'm not quite sure of, I have thought of it but am assuming they must be exempt otherwise Sumo would be done in Japan.


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

OMG I need to hide from the law :) hahahah.


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

I was in a line today in front of me was a man about 5'3"

weighing at least 200lbs. He's not going to live long being that weight, it's too much stress on his heart.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Alexander Pease - I tried researching the Sumo thing but am guessing that they are exempt somehow. Can't find anything on it though.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

billybuc - exactly, if they are dictating something that personal one would wonder what they would want to control next.


peramore20 profile image

peramore20 4 years ago from Turtle Creek, PA

lol@cebutouristspot… I think if the government wants to intervene with people's weight issues, they need to promote healthy living and make it easier to obtain. Being encouraging is a way more successful technique than forcing it upon people.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Mark Pitts - It feels like the government has forgotten they work for us and not the other way around. You are very right :) Thanks for commenting!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I won't be long until there's a law here like that. The federal agents are already checking children's lunches in North Caroline and telling them their mother didn't pack the right kind of food.

Weight doesn't all come from food. There are other factors that cause it.

I think good healthy food should be promoted but force people to do it is crazy. The price will also have to come down on good food.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

cebutouristspot - lol me too :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

writer20 - I understand and that's not a good way to be, he should lose weight but it is his choice and I just don't think it should be against the law for him to be like that. Or that he should get fined or forced to lose weight by the government for being overweight. We all have free will and can make our own choice whether or not we want to eat healthy and exercise or not. Thanks for commenting and reading. I appreciate it :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

peramore20 - your right, promotion of heathy living is best instead of making it a law.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

moonlake - I noticed that for the past several years with my daughters schools, they are really cracking down on food in lunches to the point of ridiculousness. I suppose we are moving in that direction.


mvaivata profile image

mvaivata 4 years ago

This seems really unreal. I can't imagine that something like this would pass anywhere. Thank you for putting this together, and I have shared it with my friends.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

mvaivata - it does seem a little like it couldn't happen but unfortunately for the Japanese people it is a reality. Guess only time will tell if it reaches us or not. Thanks for sharing it too :)


hoteltravel profile image

hoteltravel 4 years ago from Thailand

terrektwo, at a glance, this looks like infringement on personal freedom. But, we have to accept that obesity is a serious health problem. Instead of threatening people to stay slim, governments should start by banning junk foods that cause obesity. Another good initiative is to encourage physical activity. Thanks for sharing the info. Voted up and interesting.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

hoteltravel - not sure banning junk food is realistic to be honest. After all even something like bread due to carbs can be unhealthy if you eat enough of it. Also consider cakes, pies, and many other things that anyone can make, they'd have to ban sugar, flour, milk, eggs, and a host of other necessary foods. I can't imagine a prohibition on junk food, can you imagine the police organizing a cake raid? But as you said promoting healthy eating and living is something that should be done :) Thanks for reading and posting too!


sassydee profile image

sassydee 4 years ago from los angeles, ca

wow what is this world coming to? voted interesting


Lateral3 profile image

Lateral3 4 years ago

Trouble is life has become too easy. Survival is taken for granted. We don't even have to drag the felled game back to the cave; it arrives, butchered, oven ready. All we have to do is eat it. Despite a labour saving culture, we still can't just sit there watching the TV and do nothing. We have to eat, drink or smoke to fill in the time we would otherwise spend trying to stay alive. Which is all to the good. Who really wants to battle a hairy elephant.

Fat of course used to be a sign of wealth and power, now the lower orders have achieved the good life; it's going to be outlawed. Poor old workers just can't win.

What to do about it? Difficult one. Elitist rule seems to be going global. Japan first, where next? Perhaps we could start with the seats of power, don't vote for those with a high fat content. All election material to feature the candidate in the buff, front sides and rear, and let's see how fast they dump the idea.


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

I am small which is kind of obvious, but if the government can force you to lose weight, what can they make you do next? Then next? Then after that? Just wondering.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

sassydee - it does seem like the wrong direction for law. Thanks for reading :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Lateral3 - hehe your right, I'm sure most aging politicians wouldn't make the cut. That would be an interesting vote, not sure who would be left :)


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi terretktwo

Obesity is quite a problem. It just doesn't have to do with eating too much or not having enough willpower to loose weight. We live in a society of fast food filled with additives.

People need to be encouraged to eat right and exercise. Fining companies like they do in Japan is not the way.

Voted up and awesome.

Have a good day.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Michele Travis - your right, one thing leads to another unless the population stands up and says no.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Sueswan - your comments are very sensible and I thank you for that. I too find it wrong for being overweight to be against the law.


gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

That sounds terrible what their doing in Japan. That would force people into poverty by firing them because of their being overweight. No one should ever be forced to lose weight, it should be encouraged, not forced. I never heard of this before. I'm glad I read this. Great hub. I will share this too.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I have friends from Japan who say that the country values a healthy lifestyle and promotes diets filled with nutritious foods. This is something America is trying to encourage as well. I believe being overweight leads to health issues and causes other illness and depression. Although I agree with you that it is a person's right to live their live as they wish regardless of size. It should not be regulated by a law.


BeatsMe profile image

BeatsMe 4 years ago

Wow! That's news to me. How can a government dictate to its citizens what their weight should be. It's simply outrageous. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is one thing, dictating what your size should be is quite another.

Interesting hub, as always. :)


Marquis profile image

Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

According to the Obama administration, over-weightness is a crime. The weight-police from the Obama administration ceases school children lunches and give them state-funded chicken mcnuggets.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

gail641 - I had trouble believing it until I read about it and saw it on the news. It goes to show how different people across the globe think about such things. I can't even imagine the government doing that here.


gail641 profile image

gail641 4 years ago from Mason City

Japan should throw the law out. It should be against human rights. Japan should stay out of people's private lives. No company should be fined enormous sums of money, just because of the waist sizes of people who are overweight. People should be encouraged, not forced to lose weight only if it's okay by them to do so, never should be the gov. of Japan's business!


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

teaches12345 - Were pretty much on the same page I think. I think people should lose weight for their own health too. I am very pro healthy lifestyle. Just think it shouldn't be against the law to be overweight. Thanks for your input, I always appreciate it :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

BeatsMe - your right promotion is the way not making laws against overweight.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Marquis - hehe state funded chicken nuggets, that sounds funny. But I know what you mean. We get a list of what not to put in our kids lunch from the school and suggestions on healthy eating so I know there is a big push for it here.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

gail641 - I hear you loud and clear. It is a bad law there is no doubt about it.


Marquis profile image

Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

I always knew that the Democrats were nothing more than food NAZIs.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Marquis - lol, maybe they are hoarding all the candies and sugary snacks for themselves :)


d.william profile image

d.william 4 years ago from Somewhere in the south

Interesting hub. Now that you have put this idea out there in the open, lets hope the GOP doesn't get wind of it. They seem to be mandating morality, women's rights, eliminating freedoms, and trying to mandate christianity as the official religion of the U.S.; so what is to prevent them from following suit and mandating this as a feasible requirement for employment in this country as well? If it benefits corporate america you can bet your ass this will be the law here to.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

An important Hub. You make useful and valid points. To what extent do we want government dictating personal behavior?

Certainly obesity is a problem, my family struggles with their weight, but there are so may ways to be unhealthy - smoking - cancer and low weight premature babies, excessive drinking, misuse of prescriptions and non-prescription drugs, excessive tanning - skin cancer, dangerous sports and activities - injuries and increased medical costs, steroids/drugs - athletes and body builders.

We could all come up with an extensive list proving that personal behaviors do in fact impact our medical, economic, and social systems, but do we really want to legislate away all personal rights? Is that the kind of society we want to create and live in? SHARING


marriedwithdebt profile image

marriedwithdebt 4 years ago from Illinois

It's a huge myth that eating healthy is expensive - it's not. That's just an excuse.

I think it is also an excuse to point to the very minuscule amount of fat people who are that way SOLELY due to a medical condition. This is rare.

I don't think I'd support a fat tax, but if a company wants to encourage people to lose weight, that is fine.

Bottom line: people's inability to control their weight is having a very deleterious effect on our nation's economy and health care system.

If we end up with such a law, it will only be because the greed and addictions of overweight people drove us there, not because government wants to control what we eat.

So now we have a system where doctors pump patients full of pickling solution, keep them alive an extra ten years as a vegetable so they can continue milking money from the insurance companies.

All the while people don't want to pay for this advanced health care system.

Something needs to change.

Our food is killing us.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma

I read a BBC article about this a while back and though many Americans see this as harsh I agree that something must be done. We have more overweight people in America than ever before and it's not because they can't afford healthy food. Vegetables are cheaper than Twinkies. Too many live on carbohydrates instead of vegetables.


CloudExplorer profile image

CloudExplorer 4 years ago from New York City

Nice hub, yeah the weight issue is a troubling one in the US, but over in Japan that seems kind of harsh, but oh well that's the law makers fault right.

Did you know that theirs rules in the US military here, on weight standards as well, and its a democratic government ran program as well.

So I don't fully understand why it would be seen as wrong, since it is a cooperate company wide policy decision that was made there in Japan. Democracy or not, a company has rights to establish rules of attire, grooming, and I guess even weight standards as well just like the US government has done with the military, since health is of the highest concern they truly have there. It's cool with me, healthier people means happier people as well, good on them.

Voted up and shared.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

phdast7 - you make a lot of sense, thanks for taking the time to illustrate what it could ead too. I agree :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

marriedwithdebt - In general I think we agree, being overweight is unhealthy and should be a point to change. But I think something that each person should decide for themselves. The framework of insurance and healthcare has been built over time understanding people are getting overweight and I think suffers from much more issues than obese patients. But really what this article was to point out an aspect of personal freedom that government shouldn't have a say over. If I gain weight I shouldn't be criminalized for it, encouraged to lose yes but not criminalized.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Pamela N Red - I agree it is an issue that needs to change. I just don't think it should be against the law to be fat. Thanks for "weighing" in on this issue though :)


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

CloudExplorer - I think with the military things are a little different. The men and women joining the military are applying to fight wars and as such need to be in top physical condition. Thus the weight requirement. Besides the fact that the workplace isn't the military I don't think that a guy sitting at a computer all day needs to be in peak physical condition in order to do his job. But he could benefit from exercise and healthy eating is he is sitting all day. I just think encouragement is best.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

An earlier commenter said maybe junk foods should be banned, instead. How is that any less of an infringement on personal liberties? Furthermore, it isn't going to happen. The junk food industry is basically funded with tax-payer money by means of corn subsidies. Removing agricultural price supports for things like corn and soybeans would make people heathlier because junk food would no longer be less expensive than healthy food.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America Author

Natashalh - I totally agree everything in moderation is the best way to do it but not forced.

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