I think I about wanted to fall on the floor after reading this article about how the 58cm (22 inches) waist is the ideal "norm" for Japanese women. Like in the US advertising is emphasized on weight loss with thin, beautiful models. This completely contraindicates the fact that Japanese women in their 30s weigh 12% less than they did 20 years ago, and that almost a quarter of women in their 20s and 40s are medically underweight. I guess they are now catching up to this ideal. How scary is that?
Then on the men's side, there is apparently an "obesity epidemic" occurring, especially men over 40. Companies are trying to off shoot this with "flab checks" and give penalties for those who do not get their employees' weight under control. According to this article in the Guardian, men who have above 33.5 inch waists will be given diet and exercise plans. This article also says that women are 6% heavier. Hmm.
There is also an obesity epidemic among Japanese children. Authorities feel that this is due to the shift away from more traditional Japanese foods to a more western diet. Apparently, they've instituted a sports program for overweight children.
The ironic thing about all this is that the percentage of Japanese whoa re overweight is very low compared to world standards.
I just think how scary all this is. To have an entire country literally have distorted body views is quite astonishing. Yes, the US and other parts of the world do as well, but we haven't instituted flab checks in the workplace (at least not to my knowledge, sports arenas and such is a different story) or penalties (maybe discrimination of sorts which isn't any better unfortunately).
This just goes to show how far and wide (no pun intended) the whole weight debate/crisis occurs cross culturally.