Japan has universal health care, and the nation has initiated steps to prevent a further health crisis in regards to obesity-related health problems (and the rising costs of health care). The nation has begun measuring the waists of Japanese between the ages of 40 and 74 to identify those who are considered at risk of being "metabo" (their word for overweight). For individuals, being above the target waistline means undergoing guidance counseling if your measurements don't shrink in 3 months. I already get on the scale at the doctor's, so why does this horrify me?
I've never seen such a density of establishments that sell food, even if you don't include the growing presence of American fast food chains. When I was in Tokyo, it was a little obvious, the disparity between the overweight kids and young adults and their parents and older Japanese. But when you're caught up in a sea of Japanese people outside Shibuya station or, I don't know, trying to buy pants, it's glaringly apparent that Japan, in general, is a very svelte nation. Those kids are a sign, a symptom.
According to an article by Akiko Yamamoto, in special Washington Post article written last year about Japan's changing diet, the consumption of animal fat and protein has quadrupled in Japan in the last 50 years. That's a specific yet drastic change in a few generations for a culture whose historical diet was based on fish, soy, and rice, as opposed to the American troika of meat, dairy, and wheat.
Could this measure for measurements fly in any other part of the world, regardless of that area's prevalence of obesity? The 33.5 inch limit for Japanese men isn't that big here, when you figure the most stocked sizes of men's jeans are 34 to 36 inches (according to my informal survey of Macy's, The Gap, and Old Navy.) Will it create a rash of crazy dieting and late onset bulemia to "pass" the tape?
(Look at the photo of the anti-metabo poster attached to the article. Even when attacking a health crisis, the Japanese bring on the cute.)