[From June Issue 2015]
In Japan, every household has a bathroom scale (health meter), and most nowadays keep track of your body composition. Besides your weight, these scales can also measure, body fat percentage, muscle mass, metabolic rate, visceral fat, and more. The history of body composition monitors dates back to the days of bathroom scales and body fat meters. After putting bathroom scales on the market, Tanita Corporation (Itabashi City, Tokyo Prefecture) launched the world’s first scale to measure body fat percentage by simply standing on it.The compan
y was founded in 1944. In those days, rather than producing health monitoring devices, it manufactured metallic products, such as cigarette cases. Before long the company was producing gadgets that were ahead of their time, such as electric kettles, and electric lighters. Then the scales department was founded, and Tanita began selling measuring devices.
Since Tanita was established, the company has capitalized on its technological expertise to launch technology, products, and services that were unprecedented, either in Japan or worldwide. These products included sleep meters to measure quality of sleep and electronic meters to measure urine sugar levels – which are closely related to blood glucose levels. These were all created out of the company’s desire to “promote people’s health by monitoring it.”
The Tanita name has become better known since the publication in 2010 of “The Staff Cafeteria of Tanita, Body Fat Scale Maker” (published by Yamato Shobo). The book contains recipes for meals served at the head office’s staff cafeteria. Comprising of a soup with three side dishes, these set meals contain approximately 500 kilo calories and three grams of salt. Positive feedback from readers can be summarized as follows: “After sticking with this diet, I have a healthier body.”
In 2012, the “Marunouchi Tanita Cafeteria” opened its doors in the Marunouchi business district in Tokyo. The restaurant was created because so many readers had commented that they’d like to eat at the staff cafeteria. A professional spec body composition monitor is installed in the restaurant and a registered dietitian gives health and diet advice based on the measurement results in a consultation room.
Two kinds of meals are available – daily specials or meals that are served according to the day of the week – and just like the staff cafeteria, it’s self-service. The recommended serving of rice is 100 grams. By the effective use of dashi stock and spices and by not over boiling the vegetables, care is taken to ensure that the low calorie count and low salt content does not adversely impact on the taste of the meal.
Fureai Hiroba Plaza within the grounds of Tanita’s head office is open to the public. It has a 150-meter walking and running track and a “Health Trail” with stones of difference shapes that stimulate pressure points on the sole. The space is also used for the benefit of the local community.
Text: ITO Koichi