A survey asking people in the UK if they would support the introduction of the Japanese metabo law, which fines companies if employees aged 45-70 are over a certain waist size, over here found almost three-quarters thought it was a good idea.
The poll was conducted by financial website loveMONEY.com.
The law applies to workers between the ages of 40 and 75 as a way to tackle the rapidly ageing population and an obesity crisis prevalent in the western world.
So once a year employees will have their waists measured. If the men’s waists are over 33.5 inches (85cm) and women’s over 35.4 inches (90cm), the company they work for gets a fine while the individual gets counselling, motivational support and monitoring by phone and email.
Employers need to ensure a minimum 65% participation and companies with a certain percentage of over-the-waist-limit workers will be issued with a fine.
However, the law has faced criticism because of its difficulty to enforce along with below-target participation. But Japan has an impressively low 3.5% obesity rate so they must be doing something right.
How other countries have tried to tackle the obesity crisis
Other nations have taken a different approach: taxing products that are higher in fat and sugar.
Denmark led the way by introducing a fat tax in 2011 on foods that have above 2.3% saturated fat. Think butter, cheese, meat and processed foods.
But the government canned it the following year because of food inflation prices and the risk it posed to Danish jobs. The tax even drove some people to head over to Germany and Sweden to stock up on their favourite foods at a lower price.
Earlier this year, Indian state Kerala started experimenting with a 14.5% fat tax on burgers, pizzas, doughnuts and tacos served in branded restaurants.
Kerala is second only to Punjab in India’s obesity league tables, so this is the government’s way of approaching it, even though it has been described as discriminatory.
Many countries including South Africa, Norway and Hungary have brought in taxes on sugar which appear to be successful.
In fact, the Hungarian people have reduced their consumption of pre-packaged sweets, 22% of energy drinks and 19% of sugar-sweetened soft drinks since their tax was introduced in 2011. If our sugary drinks tax goes through as planned in the 2016 Budget, evidence suggests it could do well.