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Firms Introduce Flab Checks

Flab Checking Workers For Costly Waistlines

Over the next month Japanese firms will start performing "flab checks" on their employees over age 40. A health ministry led initiative is requiring firms to reduce the number of overweight employees and their families by 10 percent by 2012, and if they fall shy of that target the firms will be penalized.

"Flab checks" involve measuring the waistlines of about 56 million men and women to see if they're at risk of metabolic syndrome, and men "with girths of more than 85cm (33.5in) will be given exercise and diet plans and, in urgent cases, told to see a doctor." Reducing the prevalence of obesity would save the government and corporations on health care costs.

Employees' health habits have been on employers' radars in the US, too, but so far the penalties have been assigned to workers in the form of higher health care premiums. Do you think it seems right that the companies will be fined if their employees fail to slim their waistlines? And do you think the new policy would cause discrimination in hiring candidates who aren't overweight in the first place?

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