Enterprise Software

Japan takes drastic measure to fight workplace obesity

A new Japanese law requires employers to battle obesity in the workplace by measuring the body fat of employees between the ages of 40 to 70.

A new Japanese law requires employers to battle obesity in the workplace by measuring the body fat of employees between the ages of 40 to 70. 

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In the old movie Logan's Run, the characters live in a population-controlled society where they can only live until they are 30 years old. I couldn't help but think of that movie when I read about a new law passed in Japan that forces companies and the government to combat obesity in the workforce or face fines.

Japanese companies and government — the two sources of health insurance in Japan — will be required to measure the body fat of employees ages 40 to 74. Those employees can then choose to participate in weight-loss programs — a participation that may become mandatory if the company faces fines.

The law that went into effect April 1 may require employers to pay more into the national health care system if the waistlines of employees and their families exceed the government's limits of 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women. (This includes retirees who, apparently, aren't even allowed to kick back and take it easy in their advanced ages.)

Japanese firms with offices in America said the rules won't apply to employees in America. (I hope not, since about 31% of the U.S. population is considered medically obese.)

OK, OK, I know there are lots of studies that show a link between obesity and poor health. How about the link between stress and poor health? How about the modern employee who has to live daily with the threat of "downsizing"? What about increased workloads due to smaller staffs and the lack of sleep that accompanies that?

I'm not overweight myself (though I can be overwrought), but I kind of resent this action on behalf of those who are. What do you think? Instead of focusing on workplace obesity, wouldn't companies do a lot more for the health of employees if they instead took on workplace stupidity?

About Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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