Health minister Girolamo Sirchia said this week that a measuring tape will be sent to every home in the country so Italians can assess how overweight they are by the size of their belly.
Men should not measure more than 102cm, while the limit for women is 88 centimetres.
The amusing strategy underlies the potential for a serious epidemic in the country - 28 million Italians are overweight, with 5 million of these obese. The country also has the largest number of overweight children in Europe, some 36 per cent of nine-year-olds.
Italy has recently introduced what a smoking ban in all public places in a new drive to improve public health.