Japanese companies regulate waist lines

by 27 Jan 2012

An unusual three-day employee retreat is hosted annually by a Japanese oral hygiene product manufacturer, but not with the goal of teambuilding or boosting sales; instead, slimmer waistlines is the focus.

Two years ago, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare released a report on the nation’s burgeoning bellies, and as a result the government passed legislation which requires all citizens over the age of 40 to have their waists measured each year. If the measurement exceeds the stipulations, they are considered at risk and referred for counselling and support.

In order to ensure compliance, the Japanese government requires companies to slim down their workers or face higher payments into the national insurance program. Tokyo-based Sunstar Inc is just one of many companies to have instituted official programs to address the battle of the bulge, and now hosts an annual boot camp which includes lectures on diet, exercise and Zen meditation. The company also offers overweight workers free delivery of healthy, traditional Japanese food like soybeans and brown rice.

“Many employees are happy for this information and guidance we offer in our program,” Naoko Takase, assistant manager of PR at Sunstar, told the US News and World Report. However he added that some employees aren’t happy about being forced to lose weight and want to do it of their own volition.

Taking the government directions a step further, electronics giant NEC requires all of its Japan employees to undergo yearly checks from the time they turn 30, a full decade earlier than the government regulations require. Additionally, all employees must attend lifestyle courses and any employee who shows “poor results” (think beer gut) will receive individual follow-up attention.


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