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Government Requires Weight Loss

Should the Government Tell People to Lose Weight?

Big Mac attacks in Tokyo have caused expanding Japanese waistlines to spur the government into action. Statistics collected by Japan's government found on average, Japanese men are 10 percent heavier than they were only 10 years ago, and the women are catching up. The solution? The government is requiring employers to slim the number of overweight employees by 10 percent by 2012 and 25 percent by 2015. The belt-circumference limit is 34 inches for men, and 35 inches for the gals.

Earlier this year, the UK government started toying with the notions of healthy food vouchers and cash prizes for slimming down. Ministers said the Health Service said:

We will look at using financial incentives, such as payments, vouchers, and other rewards, to encourage individuals to lose weight and sustain that weight loss, to eat more healthily, or to be consistently more physically active.

Some employers in the US are side stepping the government and taking matters into their own hands — incentives for weight loss are common, with some up to as much as $50 per month for employees who achieve and maintain a loss of 30 percent of body weight. There's a whole program called IncentaHealth that advertises incentivizing health by paying employees to drop pounds, will "improve your bottom line." The idea might not be far off, as a new report shows obesity costs US employers $45 billion a year.

Is it the government's place to say what size pants you need? Are they right to get involved?


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