Americans of the East: Fat Japanese Men

fat salaryman

A growing concern: The Fat Salaryman

I last wrote about the ever-shrinking Japanese female figure, but really I was digging for data regarding the increasing number of portly Japanese men I’ve been seeing on my daily tortuous ride on the Chuo line morning commute. As I correctly suspected, the flip side to the incredible shrinking Japanese woman is the increasingly corpulent Japanese man.

Once more, let’s go to the numbers:

Japanese Obesity

① 1987, ② 1997, ③ 2007; Red = Overweight, Blue = Underweight
Image courtesy of Japan Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare

Before we get into the snarky analysis, here’s the skinny on Japanese obesity standards:

  • Likely to adjust for differences in average lean body mass, Japanese-standard obesity begins at a BMI of 25. Contrast this with the Western-standard, which begins at 30.
  • To give you a real world example, your average Japanese male stands at about 5’7″ (170 cm). If this Taro Tanaka tips the scale at 160 lbs (72.5 kg) or greater, he has reached J-fatty status.

According to this chart from the Ministry of Health ‘n Shit, the rate of Japanese-standard obesity in Japanese men over 20 (30.4% as of 2007) is beginning to approach the rate that Western-standard obesity occurs in the notoriously big American men (33.9%, 2006). For Japanese men between the ages of 50 and 59, a sizable portion of the rapidly graying society, the rate of relative fatness exceeds that of the general betesticled American populace. However, a reason for this could be that the severity of obesity is greater in good old ‘Murica, causing a great number of middle-aged porkers to die off before their time, thus decreasing their share of the demographic pie. In any case, the next time your pudgy bucho with the nationalistic bent begins his spiel about all the fatsos he saw on his annual trip to Napa Valley, remind him that Japan isn’t too far behind. Then clear out your desk* and prepare yourself for life on the street.

*Just kidding, nobody ever gets fired in Japan.

Furthermore, the amount of obese men in Japan has been steadily increasing across all age groups since 1987. Scarier still, this data is from 2007, the good old days of normal stagnation before the global economic collapse of 2008 and the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 bitch slapped the Japanese economy. One can safely assume that overworked and underpaid salarymen across the country are now consuming more cheap fast food and exercising less than ever before. Take a walk through the prepared foods section – the closest thing to a kitchen for many salarymen – of any supermarket in a major city in Japan and you will notice the pervasiveness of fried foods. This should be a familiar story to you Americans out there.

Even though this data nearly a half-decade old, a casual glance at the suited figures on the morning train reinforces the fact that men with froggy neck waddles and saggy beer bellies are quickly becoming the norm rather than an exception.


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