Australia could probably learn a lot from Japan in fighting obesity, but you might be surprised by some of the foods Japanese consumers are buying to keep thin.

In a product insight report, Datamonitor analysed Japan’s confectionery market and found some quirky and insightful confectionary products that are helping battle the bulge.

“An increasing number of working Japanese men and women are becoming highly health-conscious, eating healthy foods and engaging in regular exercise. There is widespread dread of the metabolic syndrome or ‘metabo’, which connotes lifestyle diseases,” Datamonitor’s consumer markets analyst Amit Srivastava says.

The Japanese confectionery market has been far more innovative than Australia in keeping health-conscious consumers, creating products that use ingredients such as konjac powder, which swells 200 times in the stomach and prevents overeating, GABA which promotes mental relaxation, and CPP-ACP, which suppresses loss of minerals from teeth.

In 2009, Japan ranked fourth in terms of new product launches and fifth in terms of market value in the global confectionery market, and marketing health benefits of products has become a key part of confectionery promotions.

Datamonitor says Japanese consumers suffer from higher levels of work stress compared to those in other industrialised countries, due to hierarchical company structures, long working hours and long commutes between home and the workplace. This has led to the popularity of indulgent foods among Japanese office workers seeking a break from work stress.