Do you think you have metabolic syndrome? graph of japanese statisticsThe big health buzzword last year and this has been metabolic syndrome, or metabo as it is abbreviated in Japan. For Japanese people to be diagnosed as metabolic syndrome you must have at least three of the following five signs. For men, waist over 90 cm, for women over 80 cm; blood pressure greater than 130/85 mmHg, neutral fat of 150 mg/dL or more; HDL (good cholesterol) of under 40 mg/dL for men, 50 mg/dL for women; and blood sugar over 100 mg/dL. However, there appears to be slight regional variations for these measures. Anyway, DIMSDRIVE Research recently performed a survey to find out about health checks.


Between the 23rd and 31st of January 2008 9,863 members of the DIMSDRIVE Monitor pool completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.3% of the sample was female, 1.2% in their teens, 14.8% in their twenties, 36.3% in their thirties, 29.1% in their forties, 13.0% in their fifties, and 5.6% aged sixty or older.

All Japanese companies are required to provide regular health checks for their employees; the company I work for once a year gets everyone in for eyes, ears, blood pressure, urine test, poo test and chest xray, and for older people barium meal, ECG, and blood test. In addition they have another annual test of physical strength, with grip strength measurement, bike riding, sit-ups, reaction time, blood vessel hardness and balancing on one leg.

Research results

Q1: Which aspects of your current lifestyle habits do you think are bad or you want to reform? (Sample size=9,863, multiple answer)

Lack of exercise 75.4%
Lack of sleep 40.9%
Using computer for long periods 37.7%
Irregular lifestyle 33.9%
Overeating 33.9%
Unbalanced diet 30.4%
Irregular eating habits 23.4%
Smoking 20.8%
Drinking, drinking too much 13.9%
Overwork, overbusy 13.4%
Other 1.0%
Nothing in particular 4.6%

By sex, most of the worries were pretty balanced, but women were more worried about lack of exercise, eating too much or too much of one thing. Men worried about smoking more than women, 25.8% versus 16.4%, and over twice as many men worried about their drinking.

Q2: Which of the following health checks or examinations have you had? (Sample size=9,863, multiple answer)

Ordinary health check 81.4%
Gynecology check 24.1%
“Ningen Dock” – detailed health check 208%
Home check – mail or convenience store 1.9%
Dental check 50.4%
Vision check 36.4%
Allergy check 18.2%
Anemia check 17.9%
Cancer check 17.1%
Tuberculosis check 8.4%
Other 2.1%
Never had a health check 5.1%
Don’t want to answer 0.9%

Note that the dental check refers to preventative checks, I think, rather than a by-product of a visit for treatment. I’m not sure exactly what the vision check means,though; since almost three in four Japanese wear glasses, perhaps it refers to not explictly going for glasses?

Q2A: Have you ever had a gynecological examination? (Sample size=5,253)

All women 45.1%
Teens 2.9%
Twenties 29.5%
Thirties 47.0%
Forties 52.6%
Fifties 54.1%
Sixty or older 43.6%

Q3: How often do you get health checks? (Sample size=8,8863)

Twice a year or more 9.4%
Once a year 60.6%
Once every two or three years 14.8%
Once every four or five years 5.7%
Once every six to ten years 2.8%
Once every eleven to twenty years 0.9%
Less than that 5.8%

Q4: Which of the following results from health checks are you interested in? (Sample size=8,863, multiple answer)

Cholesterol 51.4%
BMI 50.2%
Neutral fat, fat level in blood 49.0%
Weight 42.1%
Blood pressure 36.8%
Vision 35.7%
Blood sugar 32.5%
Liver function 31.9%
Gynecology 27.9%
ECG 21.4%
Chest X-ray 21.3%
Protein in urine 21.2%
Red, white blood cell count 18.8%
Sugar in urine 18.2%
Urine acidity 18.2%
Stomach X-ray 16.0%
Hearing 15.2%
Height 13.4%
Teeth 12.9%
Stool 11.7%
Blood in urine 11.2%
Prostate 4.9%
Other 0.9%
Nothing in particular 6.7%
Don’t want to answer 0.3%

Q5: Why don’t you go for health checks? (Sample size=1,848, those who hav health checks less than once every three years, multiple answer)

Costs money 45.8%
Workplace doesn’t do such checks, not employed 41.2%
Bothersome 38.4%
No habit of doing so 29.9%
Don’t have time to go 15.6%
Can’t get a suitable appointment 15.0%
Not compulsory (at workplace, etc) 13.3%
Scared of, dislike getting a bad outcome 13.1%
Don’t know how to apply 12.7%
Dislike injections, barium meal, etc 10.5%
Don’t get notification about them 9.8%
Dislike hospitals, doctors 9.8%
Location is far away, difficult to get to 6.9%
Forgot about it 6.4%
Don’t feel any need for it 6.1%
Think I’m healthy 5.8%
Embarrassing 5.2%
Diagnosis not simple for me 4.0%
Diagnosis inaccurate 1.8%
Other 3.5%
No particular reason 6.2%

Q6: Do you think you have metabolic syndrome? (Sample size=9,863)

Think so 16.0%
Think I’m borderline 32.6%
Don’t think so 48.6%
Don’t know, don’t want to answer 2.8%

Men were much more likely to think they were metabo; nearly two-thirds of middle-aged men thought they were there already or on the borderline versus less than half of women of a similar age.

Q7: Do you know about the special health checks and special health guidance programs? (Sample size=9,863)

Know about the details 6.6%
Know it exists 36.9%
Don’t know about it 56.5%

Older people were more aware of it, and men more than women. Similarly, those who had regular health checks were more aware than those who were irregular.

People had the details of these special health checks described; basically for everyone between 40 and 75 a check to see if they have metabolic syndrome.

Q8: In explanations of these special health checks and special health guidance programs, what might you want to learn about? (Sample size=9,863, multiple answer)

Cost 68.6%
Where to get it 45.9%
Details of the examination 45.7%
How to apply 37.1%
When to get it 34.1%
Getting informed of the outcome 29.8%
Medical, insurance fees after it becomes compulsory 23.0%
Whether if people outside the age range can take it 20.9%
What happens if you don’t take the examination 20.5%
Details of health guidance 19.8%
How health guidance is given 17.3%
Whether there will be benefit from following the health guidance 16.1%
Management of private, confidential information 14.4%
What happeds if things don’t improve after following the health guidance 12.8%
If details other than waist size will be taken into account when deciding 10.7%
Other 0.1%
Nothing I particularly want to know 19.3%

Q9: If you took a special health check or special health guidance program, how much do you think you could reform your lifestyle? (Sample size=4,794, metabolic or borderline metabolic people)

Can drastically reform 5.7%
Can reform to some extent 45.1%
Can reform a little 36.9%
Can’t reform 12.3%


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