Sunday, 25 August 2013

Japanese dieting

The trains have recently been graced with posters for "lose 15kg in 2 months" advertisements. 
 They're aimed mostly, but not exclusively at women.   Walking the streets of Tokyo, one never really gets the impression that Tokyo is in the midst of an obesity crisis.  Let's take a look at some statistics to give some substance to the anecdotal impression of a lack fatness here.

To give some comparative context, the graph below comes from the Washington Post. In Japan 3.9 percent of women are obese (defined as BMI above 30) compared with 34.3% of women in the US. More than 20 percent of young Japanese women are underweight.  Since 1984, Japanese women, at least the women in the 20-50  age bracket, have been getting thinner.

Washington Post article on falling Japanese BMI (1)

Japan has never lost its Prussian army zeal for measuring the masses. Most Japanese have an annual health check that monitors vital statistics such as height and weight, iron levels, blood pressure and cholesterol. Somehow the Ministry of Health Welfare and Labour comes up with a  population sample of vital statistics . (2) The average woman above 20 in Japan is  52.9kg

This means that if an average woman lost 15kg, as per the advertisement,  she would be 37.9 kg... The average weight of an 11.5 year old in Japan...

I won't insult your intelligence by going on a rant about this...




Rurousha said...

Oh but ranting is such fun! :D

I also read somewhere that women are currently skinnier than they were during the war years, which is ... if I'd known which word to use, I would've used it, but I don't, so I won't.

Meantime MEN are getting heavier.

I could find the links for these sweeping statements, but could I do that tomorrow morning instead of at the tail end of a long day?

PS: I weigh less than the average Japanese woman. I knew I was the runt of the litter, but yay!, so ... I can have more Häagen-Dazs?! Dang. If only my bank account weren't so anorectic!

Rurousha said...

Since you're refusing to rant, I will.

That photo. A six pack? I doubt very much that Japanese women aspire to a six pack: that ultra-toned, athletically muscular look isn't popular. Is it?

It is, where I come from, but we get it from playing beach rugby and boxing with hijackers, not in the gym. >:)

What is the Japanese word for bat wings? You know - that underarm flab that women of a certain age (that's me!) develop?

Cecilia said...

Agreed. The muscular look is totally at odds with what is considered desirable in Japan. It's actually a very good point. I will survey students on this when the semester starts.

Female students: Do you aspire to look like this?
Male students: Is this your imaginary dream woman (projecting an unreasonable hetrosexual bias.. I might need to phrase it more delicately.)

I ranted here before once. I despise the diet industry...

theresa said...

The "Prussian zest for measuring the masses" -- heh, good one.

My niece (Sam's niece) was obsessed with dieting and weight from the age of nine. She talked about it all the time, commenting on everyone's body and comparing who was thinnest, what we shouldn't eat. She had a totally normal skinny short kid body, it was her brother who was pudgy and loved eating.

I hadn't seen her in years until last weekend. Now she's sixteen. She's really tall, almost as tall as I am.

After all the years of the niece calling me big and fat and feeling superior-Japanese-small, the shoe is on the other foot. Poor girl. Welcome to Tall World in Japan where you're big even if you're not fat.

Cecilia said...

Diet talk is so tedious.

Hiro's niece is taller than I am - but I'm not very tall. I think she's 166cm, reasonably tall for JHS 1. She was talking the other day about one of her volleyball team mates who has size 26 feet but always buys smaller shoes because she is embarrassed to have big feet and doesn't want to ask for bigger shoes in the shop.

I am not sure I get the stigma of being tall here. Fat - I understand the stigma... Tall? or long feet?
Very puzzling...

I hope you felt karma was on your side.

& Nice to see you around again.

Cecilia said...

Cringe I just noticed an it's that should have been its....