Friday, June 06, 2008

Japanese companies are becoming calory conscious

45 year old Keiji Okuda works in Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (TYO: 6752). For the last few years, he has stopped riding trains and walks for forty minutes on his way to office. He also goes to the gym three days a week and eats buckwheat noodles for lunch. Over the years, Keiji Okuda last 42 pounds. Keiji Okuda is the new breed of Japan’s white collar workers who are conscious about their health. Yes, now you can stop picturing major CEOs and executives with large waistlines. Good physique is becoming a major image element in the corporate world. More over, because of the growing medical expenses, big Japanese companies are introducing various dieting, weight loss and exercise programs and imposing new regulations on their employees to maintain better health. reports:

Many corporations have lunchtime aerobics sessions and cafeterias with low-calorie food, are handing out free pedometers and taking other measures to fight the latest imported buzzword: "metaboh," short for "metabolic syndrome" _ the cluster of symptoms linked with obesity, high cholesterol and blood sugar, large waistlines and risks of heart disease.

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.

Obesity and fatness is still not a big issue in Japan like it is in the USA. The major reason behind this is the Japanese foods such as rice, fish, and vegetables which do not add many calories. With the import of fast foods, and western foods that require meats, are creating obesity and increasing weight.

Employees of the companies that do not shape up will be penalized by the government. The company will pay bigger portion of the annual $95 billion health care insurance for aging people.

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