The NY Times reports that in Japan companies and local governments will need to measure waist sizes of their population. Those considered "metabo" or overweight will be educated on how to lose weight and then measured later. If they still aren't at healthy weight, the companies and governments will be charged more for healthcare costs. (Japan has a publicly financed healthcare system).
It will be interesting to see how this program will do. Will people be healthier because the entire nation is focused on not being “metabo”, the preferred Japanese word for overweight? Will companies and local governments, who are responsible for measuring waist lines and ultimately financial penalties if their population, help change the lifestyle in Japan to be more healthful? For example, if your company produces food for the nation, do you promote smaller serving sizes? If you are a local government, do you greenlight more parks and neighborhoods that promote physical activity? Measuring waistlines gives us a starting point and a proxy of the health of a nation.
What will be fascinating to see is what they do with that data. It will be more, however, than simply re-educating people. We all should know that being overweight or obese, which is the status of 2/3 adult Americans, is not healthy, but the challenge is how do we make our increasingly hectic 24/7 lifestyle more supportive for staying active and eating well?