Japan makes being fat illegal

From the NY Times:

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.

That's downright totalitarian. But in a public health care system, does the government really have any other option?

Why do have the sinking feeling that a similar policy is in the cards for the US?

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This slippery slope is real and always was real

It's entirely reasonable once you accept a certain way of thinking. In the United States we have long since accepted that it is okay for governments to force people to do certain things for their own good. This is a slippery slope: once we accept government interference in our lives for our own good, however slight the interference, then we have accepted the principle that it is right for government to interfere in our lives for our own good. This is one reason why it was so important to combat the rise of (e.g.) seatbelt and helmet laws and why it is such a tragedy that in the end the lovers of individual liberty lost those fights.

Deontologists make better consequentialists than consequentialists

One can easily imagine consequentialists thinking, "oh, helmet laws will save lives." Meanwhile the crusty old deontologist says, "my head, my choice".

The consequentialists forgot about the consequences of abandoning principle.

That's why the best consequential arguments...

...take into account the far future, not just the immediate future. They take into account repeated iterations.

Not just the far future...

...but the unexpected, the missed, the overlooked. A consequentialist considers the consequences, but his moral judgment is therefore contingent on his flawed and limited ability to predict the consequences. Just as it is generally better to buy an index fund than a managed fund, it is likely better to adhere to time-tested moral principles than to trust the reasoning of the clever consequentialist.

The shift to consequentialist thinking may itself cause harm, insofar as it involves the deprecation of principle, which it must do if it is to make moral judgment depend on predicted outcome.

Interesting choice of words.

"If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months."

I like how they chose to use the word "re-education". Maybe next they'll send them to work camps to work off that extra fat.

I wonder, also, if there

I wonder, also, if there will be some sort of special dispensation for sumo wrestlers.

Why is the cutoff higher for

Why is the cutoff higher for women than for men?

I second BrandonBerg:

Why do women get to be fatter than men?


Women just naturally have wider hips than men, and excess weight you may have during or after pregnancy isn't something that can be controlled as easily as not eating so much.

False precision

Also, I like the way they convert the cutoffs from metric to US measurements, rounding to the nearest tenth of an inch, which makes it sound like a bunch of Japanese scientists sat around debating whether 35.3 inches was the maximum safe waist circumference for women, whether 35.4 might be all right, too. The actual figures are 85cm for men and 90cm for women.


wait what's the penalty for being over weight???
I just hear that its illegal but I dont hear whats the penalty for being over wieght

It looks like they're fined

It looks like they're fined and forced to take classes on healthier life styles, pretty similar to if you were endangering your life by not following traffic laws.