My jiggling breasts have a message for all of us
I didn't really care about my expanding girth until I realized one day that I had grown "breasts" that bounced when I half-ran. And much as I was loathe to admit, my ample belly and buttocks also undulated in unison. In fact, every square inch of blubber on my body was jiggling. But I soon got over the shock of this nasty revelation.
However, hoping I might still be able to mend my ways, I attended as an observer a recent two-day symposium hosted by the Japan Society for the Study of Obesity in Tokyo. The topic of most of the discussion sessions and presentations was metabolic syndrome, a combination of health disorders often typified by the accumulation of excess organ fat that can cause serious diseases.
Some presentations were based on the speaker's own experiences. One diabetes expert shed 6 kilograms--and has since kept them off successfully--by cutting back his daily beer consumption from four cans to one can and snacking only on low-cal kaiware white radish sprouts and wasabi preserved in sake lees.
Another doctor said, "When I have an evening drinking party I can't get out of, I just go and don't fret about it. I make up for it by doing whatever I can with breakfast and lunch to limit calories."
Healthcare professionals or laymen, all middle-aged men seem to think alike.
According to a recent survey by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japanese women of all age groups have slimmed down since the last such survey was conducted 12 years ago, but men have become chubbier. The average Japanese man in his 40s, the survey found, is now "slightly overweight."
The ministry may seem an odd party to be checking the height and weight of Japanese citizens, but the fact is that this data is indispensable to determining the latest industry standards for consumer items such as apparel and cars. Manufactured goods evolve over time in keeping with the changing sizes and shapes of average consumers.
A modern Japanese man won't fit into a suit of armor worn by a warrior during the Sengoku Jidai, or the age of provincial wars, from the 15th to the 16th century, nor will he be able to sleep comfortably in a bed that belonged to an absolute monarch of that era.
We all want to gorge ourselves with good food. If we balloon out as a result, manufacturers are making sure there won't be any problem.
In the light of my own experience, however, buying a bigger chair or roomier clothing is not advisable because that's practically tantamount to telling yourself to grow into it. Let me remind myself and all my chubby friends: We can enjoy good food only if we are healthy.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 21(IHT/Asahi: October 29,2007)