Have you heard about "metabo" - or short form for "metaborikku shindoromu" (metabolic syndrome, for those of you who didn't get it)?

Measuring up in Japan

A national law came into effect in April for companies and local governments to measure the waistlines of people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. From 2013, companies which do not shape up will have to increase their financial contributions to government-run health-care insurance schemes.

The campaign started a few years ago when the Health Ministry sounded the alarm about metabolic syndrome - a collection of factors such as abdominal obesity, high-blood pressure and high levels of blood glucose and cholesterol which can increase the risk of illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension if left unchecked.

To help their employees stay trim, some companies handed out pedometers to employees, introduced low-calorie meals in the staff cafeteria, sponsored nutrition education and offered exercise classes to help their employees shape up.

Keep the weight off at work

While there are no national campaigns in Singapore (yet) for working adults, you too can make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to limit weight-gain. Your best bet is to hit the gym regularly, but if you can't, here are some other things you can do.

Eat 'real' food

Potato chips and cookies don't count as breakfast. A hearty but healthy breakfast with plenty of protein and fibre will keep you full until lunchtime. Opt for fresh instead of processed food whenever possible to cut down on unnecessary added sugar and salt.

Keep a food diary

You may not think twice about dipping your hand into your colleague's pack of chips. And worse, you may not remember eating that chocolate bar because you were too busy working. Write down your food intake at every meal and you'll be able to keep track of what you have been overindulging in.

Take a few extra steps

One of the easiest ways to stay fit is to opt for old-fashioned foot power over technology or convenience. Instead of parking near your exit, go for the furthest lot and walk to the door. Climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the lift all the time.

Stock only healthy snacks

If you have to snack, be kind to yourself and stock up on healthier stuff like fresh fruits, nuts (not the salt-laden variety, please) and bitter chocolate made with less sugar.