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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?


Join The Conversation
lil-rebbitzen lil-rebbitzen 9 years
As someone who is clinically obese (thankfully I have the height to not look so bad), I do think the government needs to step in to help a bit, but ultimately it is the individual's responsibility to do something to about their weight. My weight gain came from a bad metabolism and emotional eating during a bad bout of depression. Our kids are paying for the increasing portions, lack of exercise (recess, for instance, DOES NOT need to be eliminated. The kids need it to get out energy, so they can actually learn, instead of going to school for hours and getting no break.), and resturaunts need to take some responsibility as well. Use herbs to make things taste good, not fat! Parents also need to help their kids make smart decisions early on.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
"we can still smoke 2 packs a day while lying in a tanning bed" We can do that?! Cool! Just kidding. You make an excellent point, julieulie.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
I think dictating weight limits should only come into play after we've banned tanning beds, smoking, and consumption of alcohol. What's the point in being skinny to save on health care if we can still smoke 2 packs a day while lying in a tanning bed? Sorry, but weight loss doesn't take you off the hook for other bad habits.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
I agree about PE, actually. When I was in high school (about six years ago), we actually did real activities - cross country, soccer, even a week of aerobics. While not everyone was that into it, it was definitely an hour of good exercise twice a week, which is better than what I'm hearing about high school currently. I just wish that parents would get in on the action too and encourage their children to "go play outside" - it's what I always heard from my mom anyway :)
rivrchild rivrchild 9 years
Oops, I meant "PE was a joke" not E -- lol we didn't do E :)
rivrchild rivrchild 9 years
tlsgirl - you're right, removing some of the bad food options might not make you choose the right option all the time. But in public schools where kids are still learning eating habits, I think it would help if they were given healthy food to choose from. i agree with the others who say that if the government is going to tell people to lose weight, they need to start early and put good solutions like healthy food and REAL physical education programs back into schools. Once I got to high school, E was a joke. Most of the time, it was just a free period to do whatever you wanted which usually meant sitting on the bleachers and gossiping. Maybe not all schools are like that, but when I look back on it now, we all should have failed gym. The teachers didn't care. They never made us do anything. It would be a good start in the right direction for kids if they were educated about the importance of physical fitness and shown that it can be fun. If you start good habits early, the more likely you are to keep them.
krampalicious krampalicious 9 years
can anyone say... eugenics? ERADICATE THE FATTIES, FOR THE SAKE OF UNCLE SAM! /disgust with the world
oliray12 oliray12 9 years
Since I am not in my best shape I will say that it would be hard if someone told me I had to lose weight, however we should try to be healthy if not for our looks than for our families and our own well being. It is just completely crazy that just due to our obsession with food we have now brought on problems that never even occured in children such as clogged artires and high blood pressure.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
yesteryear - we're definitely already paying for it. My comment was mostly a response to the posts saying that the government should spend more time regulating the food industry than individuals. The thing is, removing some of the bad food options doesn't get to the ultimate problem of a person's personal choices. The government can regulate all they want, but ultimately you're the one who's responsible for your body and your health. I just take issue with people blaming others for their situation. Also, 2 packs a day comment = hilarious.
popularsugar popularsugar 9 years
Actually, it is not that ridiculous. In the U.S. Blue Cross Blue Shield gives $150.00 for people that have this insurance to join a gym. This is an incentive for people healthy or not to maintain adequate health. There are businesses in the U.S. that have incentives for their employees to lose weight and maintain a healthy BMI. In Japan, they see the rise of obesity and overweight as a health care cost. In the U.S., this issue is also a problem, but the federal government is not taking action in mitigating the rise of obesity. What is the incentive? To live longer and not pay more money in health care costs. "Overweight and obesity and their associated health problems have a significant economic impact on the U.S. health care system. Medical costs associated with overweight and obesity may involve direct and indirect costs. Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity. Indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs. Morbidity costs are defined as the value of income lost from decreased productivity, restricted activity, absenteeism, and bed days. Mortality costs are the value of future income lost by premature death." -CDC I do not see this as "discrimination", it is a practical action to have all of their citizens maintain healthy weight. With more health problems means health insurance companies need to pay more money, but it also means more people are buying health insurance. And it also promotes research in the field so that operations cost less...there are many other factors, if you are interested, you can read more at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
gigill gigill 9 years
I don't think it's the government's job to dictate how to people should live their lives. However, they could always do what the government did to the smokers up in Canada (they eat up a ton of health care dollars) and tax the shit of junk food, plain and simple. Smokers are banned from smoking in public places...well perhaps it's time junk food products were banned from cafeterias etc. I understand how it's trickier territory though since ciggies are ciggies, while I bet food companies would argue tooth and nail that they aren't junk food to avoid getting that tax.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Hypnotic, maybe I didn't state it well, but that's basically what I said a while back: That the U.K. has more socialist programs than the U.S., but is still not a socialist society.
sldc sldc 9 years
Japan is a collectivist society culturally. I hate this "nanny state" and fascist crap. Corporations and insurance companies are in charge of our health care, so therefore they have a say in our lifestyles. Sure, it seems okay to go after the heavy people now and the smokers, but soon it will be those with genetic diseases, older Americans, and any lifestyle deemed "risky" by some number cruncher. Discrimination based on health is just as bad as any other discrimination, maybe even worse. People are entitled to so many sick/personal days at most jobs. Saying heavier people miss more than others is using the same logic as those who do not want to hire mothers of small children. As long as they do not miss more than they should, why care?
Silverlining10 Silverlining10 9 years
Being overweight has effects on the number of days employees miss because of health-related issues, and it's just a good idea for each individual to be healthy. If there are incentives, that's even better!
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Isn't it every woman's fear to end up in a picture like the one in this post? This is probably the third or fourth topic like this I've seen here (not saying it's a bad thing because it's a different policy each time) and I'm all talked out about it. Although I would like to point out something I saw on while I was jonesing for some NFL news: today an Alabama State sophomore basketball player dropped dead after playing a pickup game. Assuming some controlled substances weren't to blame, an extremely in-shape young man just keeled over and died in the middle of healthy exercise. Yeah, weight's a predictor of overall health, but it's not the only one, and there isn't always a direct correlation between one's BMI and their drain on the system, and I think to assume so is an offensive blanket statement, like a lot of blanket statements are.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
People have to get up off their you-know-what and keep themselves healthy; it is sad when it comes to a time when the government has to take over. I voted "NO" since I tend to be considered underweight and wouldn't want the government telling me to bulk up; I would be a hypocrite to vote yes. However something does have to happen. Governments should pressure the food industry to give us healthy food; french fries with the additives and fats, cooked in good-for-you oil. Their are easy ways to make the food BK serves now healthy; just replace the s*** with natural ingredients. And show the people what being overweight does to their internal organs and the plague on the walls of their heart; show them the horrifing reality of what their doing to themselves.
Meike Meike 9 years
Interestingly enough, our government is called DIET in Japan, lol. On a serious note, I'm all for being healthy but it's not the government's role to dictate that lifestyle for everyone. I want to live a long life with the least health problems I can get away with. By default, I eat healthily and am physically active. That is a decision my family and I make. After all, most everyone has a responsibility for themselves. However, children who don't know any better, the responsibility of feeding nutritious options and getting them into a healthy physically active routine is up to their parent. It saddens me that obesity is hitting people at younger and younger ages.
Shortiegurl03 Shortiegurl03 9 years
you would think it would be more about motivation then demanding weight loss. Just because people would loose the weight doesn't mean they would do it in a healthy way and keep a healthy lifestyle.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
This is ridiculus! Does the circumference have anything to do with the person's height? If a 6 foot mane has a 34 inch waist, he (or she) is going to be very skinny.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
hey cabaker, it's just a suggestion from me to you. let me tell you though - it's really cramping my style on the internet dating tip. i may have to quit if i'm ever going to find a man who can put up with sleeping with me in my pile of butts.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
"look at me! i'm youthful, and beautiful. 2 packs a day, people!! that's all we ask." :rotfl: yesteryear!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I find it hard to believe that gov't should be responsible for getting people thinner. Sure, it would be "better" if we were, right? But that doesn't mean it should be a gov't issue. It can be addressed in other ways. I also think that there'd have to be crazy lawsuits if people who didn't drop the weight were fired. Wouldn't that be discrimination? Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about this. The people who have the most impact on obesity (themselves, or in some cases, parents) have the responsibility to fix it. I'm tired of this being everyone else's responsibility. If you can't control stuffing food in your face, how is the gov't going to help you with that? It doesn't make sense.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
oh, and they should rescind the anti-smoking laws. it's a proven dietary aide! look at me! i'm youthful, and beautiful. 2 packs a day, people!! that's all we ask.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
tlsgirl: i think that we are already paying for it. your taxes go to the county you live in... they pay for hospitals that care for people who are in low wage jobs who cant afford healthy food (or insurance) and who are going to the emergency room with diabetes, heart disease, and obesity-related cancers. the government didn't stop this junkfood/lazy culture when it started, so if they want to give an incentive to be healthy now, i see it as a positive... but as i posted before, unfortunately it's too little too late.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
if the government wants to pay me to get thin i'm all for it. but this is backwards. what they should first do is get all junk food, sugary drinks, and other crap out of public schools NOW, and bring back the real physical fitness courses we all took when we were kids. we are raising a bunch of little lazy fatties who complain when they are pulled away from their x-boxes. you can't feed people cheetos for 30 years, build cities based around car travel, develop suburbs that are miles from shopping and other public services, gut the public transportation system and then blame people for being fat.
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