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I wonder if Sumo Wrestlers have to lose weight also?
June 14, 2008 11:50 AM   Subscribe

We've talked about BMI as a metric for health, and possibly laws regulating health. What about waist measurment?

The government initiative, which kicked in April 1, requires companies to have workers aged 40 to 74 take up the battle of the bulge by requiring waist measurements at health checkups - part of the nation's larger efforts to guard against the ballooning costs of medical care, estimated at $285 billion a year.
posted by P.o.B. (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
My enormously huge and grotesque body, my choice!
Where'd them chilli fries go?

I just had a discussion about this with a few Japanese people living in the US. They really didn't care one way or another. I also brought up Sumo wrestlers and they didn't care one way or another about them either. Someone please speak with someone who has an opinion on this and post your results here.
posted by Science! at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2008


The article that I read about this (not sure if it's the linked one or not) suggested that most Japanese are under the limits, so perhaps that's a big part of the blasé attitude. A policy that effectively tells most people "hey, you're doing fine!" is probably met with a lot less resistance than one that says "hey fatty, put down the milkshake," as one would almost certainly have to do in the U.S.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:29 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Watch Your Girth. And from yesterday:
Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions - NYTimes.com.

See the graphic of American/Japanese Male/Female waist sizes:

Japanese men: 32.8 Japanese women: 28
American men: 39 American women: 36.5

New Japanese health care term: "metabo" for metabolic disease.
posted by psyche7 at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2008


Most of our national health care problems would end overnight, if Americans went back to average BMIs and waist sizes they had only fifty years ago. As it is, Medicare is going to be swamped by the cost of paying for the treatment of tubby boomers with preventable diseases. The solution to the healthcare crisis is for you to set down the fork, take a deep breath, and go out and have a walk. (Actually, few Americans use forks anymore. They sit in front of the television and shove things into their mouths with their bare fingers. All in a kind of trance.)
posted by Faze at 4:39 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The average american waistline is 39"?! Holy f'n Christ

I feel kinda chubby, and I'm a 32".
posted by flippant at 5:16 PM on June 14, 2008


Shouldn't it be a hip/waist ratio? What about people with ginormous pelvises?
posted by porpoise at 5:27 PM on June 14, 2008


Most of our national health care problems would end overnight, if Americans went back to average BMIs and waist sizes they had only fifty years ago.

Ah, before the processed food revolution! Thank god for bread, soda, packaged food and convenience for killing us slowly.
posted by sfluke20 at 5:54 PM on June 14, 2008


For some reason I read that as "waste measurement" and my first thought was, "Ewww..." followed shortly by, "Hmmm..."
posted by wfrgms at 6:22 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Four out of five people who want to lose weight and do lose weight end up regaining it. What does this suggest about the effectiveness of "will power" in sustained weight loss? Almost nobody wakes up one morning and thinks "Hmmm... I'ma grow me up a whole messa lard. Yep." So the folks who have it don't really want it. Yet it is unlikely that they will be able to lose it and keep it off. The biological forces are just too strong. Therefore, legislation that attempts to enforce sustained weight loss will be about as effective as a law against sex.
posted by gregor-e at 6:55 PM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh Girth, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you!
posted by subgear at 7:05 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Four out of five people who want to lose weight and do lose weight end up regaining it. What does this suggest about the effectiveness of "will power" in sustained weight loss?

These studies have the potential to be very biased. For example the study you linked clearly isn't a representative sample of the population; we may speculate as to how this biases it.

The demographic characteristics of registry members are as follows: 77% are women, 82% are college educated, 95% are Caucasian, and 64% are married. The average age at entry to the registry is 46.8 y. About one-half of registry members report having been overweight as a child, and almost 75% have one or two parents who are obese.


A lot of these studies, though from my quick reading not this one, suffer from the bias that they solely consider people who felt the need the consult their doctor about losing weight either a priori or due to previous failure to lose weight. The "95% of diets fail" one suffers from this, and I believe the author of that study has somewhat disowned it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:37 PM on June 14, 2008


The biological forces are just too strong.

It's weird that these unstoppable "forces" only came into play with in the last thirty years. And most noticeably in the US.

I guess the only way to stop these fatty forces is to go back in time in a DeLorean that is driving quickly way from north America.
posted by tkchrist at 12:42 AM on June 15, 2008


As long as there is a billion-dollar diet industry, there will be an obesity "epidemic" and all kinds of government plans to "cure" it. Meanwhile, countries with major food shortages would kill for a population nourished so well.

There have always been fat people. They just used to be the rich ones. Since we're all rich in the West (on a global scale), we are fat. If you're not fat, maybe you're doing it wrong? Let me help you with your thinness epidemic, ok?
posted by SassHat at 1:20 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder if, perhaps, there isn't a better way to express one's world-winning richness than gorging on white sugar and corn syrup?
posted by pompomtom at 5:36 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Four out of five people who want to lose weight and do lose weight end up regaining it. What does this suggest about the effectiveness of "will power" in sustained weight loss?

20% succeed? If only smokers had it so easy! Changing one's bad habits is not easy.

"Will-power" is a term we made up to capture the human struggle between what we want and what really really want. After making up our minds once, if we change our mind later, some may say the will-power was weak. We could just say 'I changed my mind about what I wanted - for awhile'.

After granting that it is just something we made up; the way the term "will-power" is commonly used means that to say it (will-power) isn't relevant or effective, is to say there never was any choice involved. Which is just hardly ever true in life.
posted by Bokononist at 7:05 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Follow-up: We often want to have our cake, and eat it too. And then not get fat. In spite of having apparently stumbled upon a recursive infinite-cake-generation procedure. Our cupboards are now bursting and overflowing with sweet sweet cake, but we're on a diet.
posted by Bokononist at 7:10 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the Japanese effort is a sensible one for the fact that if nothing else they are going to increase cultural awareness of the slippery slope of obesity before it takes hold of their young. Getting a population over 45 to lose weight may be impossible, as it seems to be in my practice. Unless the payoff is somehow immediately tangible (looking svelte if you're appealing to vanity, or the elimination of a symptomatic health concern if you are in self-preservation mode - people don't generally do it if they can't feel the problem), few people perform the intense, daily disciplinary actions required for sustained weight control over their lifetime. But the simple, inescapable fact is that it can be done quite easily, once one finds the balance, in physics terms, of input and output for their body. It's just quite rare to see someone exert the mental and physical effort to reach that threshold, as it is well beyond what most people feel is fair, appropriate or necessary based on what they've gleaned from listening to the six o'clock news or Oprah. Most people voice frustration to me when taking the stairs or walking on their lunch hour coupled with 'eating less' isn't bringing the weight loss.

The fact is that every Japanese person that makes better choices for themselves or their kids when they fill up their shopping carts probably saves the Japanese government thousands in long-term health costs.

We should be so smart.
posted by docpops at 8:20 AM on June 15, 2008


But the simple, inescapable fact is that it can be done quite easily, once one finds the balance, in physics terms, of input and output for their body........

ehm....yes and if that happens to be about 1500 calories the patient will either become mentally psyched for dieting each day and every day for the rest of their natural lives....or they will increase their excercise by about 1hour a day so they can burn off the equivalent of one burger. Unless they are of a certain age where metabolic slow-down or joint problems or any other comorbidity means it's like 2 hours a day of gentle exercise to have half a burger, but your get the picture.

It's very simple, but under no circumstances can you describe it as easy.

Framing it as a question of will power pure and simple has worked so well to date that it has spawned said billion dollar diet Industry.

And the extreme reactions when "celebrities" take a different option like gastric banding are so over the top and so severe one wonders if they are not being driven by the PR sections of companies producing that pink patch, that magic pill, that fantastic new goat droppings diet that everyone in the MEDIA is raving about.

Until such time as mass education of the populace and will power succeed, we should be researching treatment options far more than we do at present (cos the drugs companies don't like to fund options that will lose them millions on ongoing drug use).

With a family history of obesity, (strike 1) and a comorbidty which may prevent vigorous excercise (strike 2) the Belgian Health system allows Gastric banding from about BMI 34 (It's up to your doctor of course as the person who knows your health best). While you are are still relatively healthy this is a very straightforward procedure and in no way compares to the more severe "re-plumbing" operations of Gastric bypass and Duodenal switch.

The UK NHS allows it according to NICE guidelines from BMI 40 but it is very much a question of a "postcode lottery" for under-resourced health services.

But by all means let's hear it from the diet & excercise mefites who won the genetic lottery before they were born about how it is a simply question of will power....

/rant over/
posted by Wilder at 6:07 AM on June 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


But by all means let's hear it from the diet & excercise mefites who won the genetic lottery before they were born about how it is a simply question of will power....

My Grandparents were both obese. During the depression. As were their parents.

Don't give me this genetics lottery bullshit.
posted by tkchrist at 11:39 AM on June 16, 2008


yeah, yeah, tkchrist, single anecdotal evidence is so useful to large scale population study.

I was pointing out the proven information that some people have more efficient metabolisms than others and can eat relatively normal amounts of food by which I mean the 2,500 calories given as a guideline amount for men for instance. I am not referring to the greyhound breed of man who can put away twice that without any noticible gain as they are exceptions not norm.

The vast majority of obese people eat over that calorie amount. There are a number of obese people who actually routinely need less than that amount and where even an apple a day over 1.500 calories for example will have them gain 10 lbs in one year. Again though this is a small group.

Both these groups however have problems staying for the rest of their lives on something the West would consider deprivation diet despite the fact that they were eating over their calorie needs. Westerners don't do deprivation and someone upthread mentioned how much better the choices the Japanese made in the weekly shop. No more however, metabo & obesity levels in Japan are rising steadily.

So we either sit on the sidelines, point and say all this is bullshit and by the way hurf durf butter eater, or we explore ways of practically dealing with the complex issue. As I said in my previous comment mass education ain't cutting it at the moment so I had a constructive suggestion for the discussion here. Unlike you.
posted by Wilder at 12:28 AM on June 19, 2008


Fines for fat workers?
Sudden cost-saving measure:
Workforce reduction.
posted by optovox at 12:44 PM on June 24, 2008


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