Archive for June 20th, 2008

June 20, 2008

In which the state inspects my trousers, sees what size they are and shakes its head.

Japan has passed a law that requires companies to measure the waistlines of their employees (aged 40-75) during health checkups. Government limits (based on International Diabetes Forum guidelines) have been established for acceptable waist sizes, and people whose waistlines do not fall within this range will be given thre months to lose the weight. If they have failed to do so they will receive “dieting guidance”. “If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.”
T
his is stupid. Here’s why:

  • Fat people are not stupid. These are adults (and have been adults for quite a while) – even the most paternalistic of governments must believe them to be capable of making informed choices about their bodies. People who are fat are generally aware of the fact. They are bombarded with reasons not to be fat (eg. Being able to find nice clothes that fit) constantly. If people do wish to lose weight (and why assume that they do?) they will presumably find their own motivations to do so. But while a government can certainly make diet counseling available to its citizens, there’s something very creepy about forcing them to avail of it.
  • International Diabetes Federation guidelines are just that: guidelines. I’m not going to deny any connection between weight and health, but it is perfectly possible for people who are overweight to be healthy. To demand that people (who may or may not be perfectly well, and who may have far healthier eating habits than some of the thinner people) lose weight for the sake of their health is ridiculous. (To *demand* that even people who are unhealthy lose the weight is also ridiculous, but I’ve already made that point. People’s bodies are their own.)
  • The assumption that people are fat only because they don’t eat or exercise right? I’m sure there are people who are fat for those reasons and who could, if they chose to (and if time and economics and all sorts of other factors allowed it of course) lose weight. I know very well that I could lose weight myself if I made the effort to. There are also people whose weight is related to other, non-diet-related reasons. What possible positive effects could ‘re-educating’ them (and how creepy is that word?) have? I mean, it’s not like fat people aren’t told constantly that their weight is completely within their control and that if they are overweight it’s their fault for not making the effort.
  • Fat people aren’t treated particularly well by the medical industry to begin with. My own experiences with doctors haven’t been too awful (but there’s a matter for another post) but most other fat people I know have horror stories to tell; things like symptoms that would otherwise be taken seriously being dismissed as due to weight and the like. This is not going to help.

(Comments abusing fat people for being fat will not be published. Because I’m just tyrannical and oppressive like that.)