No you do not have to spend hours in sweaty gymnasiums watching pot-bellied macho men show off their new-found bicep and listening to the tales of those annoying people who run around at seven o'clock in the morning with a towel round their neck and a toilet roll in their right hand. Welcome to the weight-reducing Calorie Shaper Pants!
What? Yes, Japanese MXP Calorie Shaper Pants, a new invention which promises to shave hundreds of calories per week. They are produced by the Shibuya company in Tokyo.
So how do they work? Well apparently you put them on and then go for a 90-minute walk and then you lose an extra 210 calories a week.
By wearing the shorts? So they say. I know what you are thinking. If you go for a 90-minute walk every day wearing the shorts or not, you are going to burn 210 extra calories.
You spoilsport! OK, OK, well they say it's a new kind of technology - there is a resin in the fabric which makes it cling to the body and prevents stretching, so the muscles have to work harder, and there you have your extra 210 calories.
Extra to what?
Anything else? Yes, the miracle Shaper Pant technology also prevents body odour. The manufacturer claims the shorts absorb the body odour of middle-aged and elderly men.
Meaning that younger men or women of any age stink when they wear them?
They don't say. Try them out for yourself, they're only 38 USD a pair!
A new product and a new idea, part of a worldwide campaign to get people back into shape after fast food and unhealthy habits saw between a third and half the world's population in the northern hemisphere reach overweight or obesity levels. This in turn has knock-on effects which overload healthcare systems - high blood pressure, vascular disease, cholesterol, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
Japan has a hands-on approach which could be developed in other countries: citizens between the ages of 40 and 74 have annual check-ups in which their waistline is measured. If it is over the acceptable limit - 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, the worker is given dieting information after three months of the measurement - and after six months, a further education program.
The philosophy is simple: if you consume more calories than you burn, you put on weight. Calorie-counting diets, in which the calories of all the ingredients of a meal are studied and planned so as to provide no more than a certain amount per meal or per day, are effective generally for short periods of time. Where they fail is because the dieter goes back to the previous lifestyle, and often ends up putting on more weight that he or she had before.
A refinement of this approach is to eat slower-burning foods such as salads and green leaves, like cabbage. Whatever the approach, the bottom line is not to get into, or else get out of, the lifestyle that put the weight on in the first place.