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Can Mississippi Legislate People Thin?

Mississippi, the fattest state in the Union, introduced a bill last Friday that would ban some restaurants from serving anyone with a BMI over 30.

The bill, HB 282, is sparking uproar. Two of the bill's sponsors did have careers related to healthcare prior to becoming lawmakers. Regardless, many are wondering now if this bill, despite its intentions to make Mississippians healthier, does so at the detriment of the big three: life, liberty, and the pursuit of Big Macs. Has Mississippi's State House crossed over the line? Should you be required by law to weigh in before the menu arrives?


Join The Conversation
ktacce ktacce 9 years
this is an intense discussion on sugar! this is why i love citizen sugar! i get my pop and my news all in one site! way to balance it out. anyways - the point that sticks out to me is that fat-ness is already a stigma just like smoking, and while i'm the type that works out 6 out of 7 days a week, i still think it's insane that there would be this kind of discrimination! what if they're on weight watchers and allotted the 12 points that it'll take to eat wendys? what if they've been eating all vegetables, lost 100 lbs and just need to have a hamburger? there are so many what-if's involved in this law! it won't pass, but regardless, it's awful that it's even introduced. it is all about nutrition education, that was a fantastic point.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
I mean, wow, obesity is such a huge problem I'm glad the govt is finally doing something about it, oh wait. Of all the things the govt could do to help treat obesity this is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard. It's offensive, discriminatory, interferes with personal freedoms, and worst of all, I don't even see how it would help! If someone can't get a burger at McDonald's, she'll just go elsewhere. Why not just require these restaurants to also have healthy options, most of them do, maybe they could just market them better. Or offer discounted or free nutritionist appointments to people with a certain BMI if they want them. Or discounted gym memberships. Or incentives to lose weight, there has been talk about how $$ incentives make it easier for people to meet weight loss goals. I understand my taxes go towards the health-care costs associated with obesity, and I need to lose about 15 pounds myself to be my healthiest, so I definitely know how frustrating weight-loss can be, but this is just the worst idea ever, I don't see how it will ever be passed.
grrlyrebel grrlyrebel 9 years
I say we all just get our food at the drive thru window!
remedios remedios 9 years
"there is a 1-to-1 correlation between slamming your unprotected head into asphalt/your flesh and bone body going through a windshield and severe injury/death." Assuming this to be true, there is still not a 1-to-1 correlation between riding a motorcycle/car and severe injury/death, and the law regarding wearing helmets/seatbelts doesn't apply only in the event of an accident. But there isn't even a 1-to-1 correlation between accidents without gear/seatbelts and severe injury/death. My husband just the other day fell off his scooter and merely hurt his butt. (I yell at him all the time about wearing the helmet though. Just because I don't think there should be a law about it doesn't mean I think he shouldn't wear one.) But ultimately it applies because it concerns individuals causing injury to themselves by these actions and not others. "Both of those things are much more likely to save a life if they're in use than if not (that's not to say people haven't died while using both/either)." True, but that is also true of nutritional limits. Yes, there are lots of factors, but in general, eating healthy food is also more likely to save lives than not. But I will agree that the legislation is not the most effective way of achieving its goal, regardless.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Mississippi needs to chill! I'm carrying around a few extra pounds, but that is my business, not that of the government. Besides, if someone told me that my BMI was too high to eat at their establishment, they'd have my size 11 shoe wedged so far up their ass that their grandparents would feel it. ;)
mguy414 mguy414 9 years
This just reminds me of in Super Size Me when the guy that Morgan is talking to asks when it will become socially acceptable to ban people from eating because they're fat like it is to ban people from smoking. (Not an exact quote of course, its been a few years since I saw it)
peepshow peepshow 9 years
The 'law' doesn't make too much sense... and restaurants wouldn't participate. I doubt any place is going to turn away customers (no matter the size). And who's going to enforce it? "I'm sorry kid, you're fired. That man has a BMI of 32 and you served him a Big Mac!" Also: why not place the responsibility on the restaurant? Stupid as it may sound- why not try to pass a law that demands restaurants to ONLY serve food with less than x amount of calories?
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Great post Sugarbean. Take a stroll through an elementary school cafeteria, and you'll certainly find all sorts of food additives and colors, that have been directly linked to hyperactivity. This thing is so unconstitutional it's scary. Too bad more people would be fired up about THIS than things like the Patriot Act. Meanwhile our civil liberties are just flying out the window.....
grrlyrebel grrlyrebel 9 years
Coming from a person living in the "fattest" state in the union, something seriously needs to be done about this problem, but it's definitely NOT by way of this Unconstitutional bill, which won't get past the House. You have to admit though, it's an interesting way to get everyone's attention about this growing problem (no pun intended). I'm so glad sugarbean posted her comment and the link for the Food Stamp Challenge. It's very important that people understand what is happening here in Mississippi and in some of the poorer areas around the country. She's not exaggerating either... I grew up going to a public school where the "cool" thing to do was forgo eating in the lunch room (which was mediocre at best) and instead eat straight from the vending machines (it was cheaper and I was never once told by a teacher or any authority figure that we should consider health risks). Meanwhile our scoreboards and wall clocks housed the prominent "Cola Cola" label. Granted, I graduated about two years ago (ok maybe a few more than two), but the same traditions are alive and well at that school and many others around the state.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I don't think that it's very practical-- how can the typical person working in a restaurant(probably their second job, or just to make ends meet/pay bills-- not as part of a career goal) eyeball a BMI of 30+?? And it is unfair to the small amount of people who are obese because of medical reasons. They can't control their weight, as opposed to the people who just eat junk food and never exercise. There's no way to tell a difference between those two, and therefore it wouldn't be fair.
sugarbean sugarbean 9 years
popgoestheworld -- essentially, our tax dollars ARE going towards paying for health care for obese people. Obviously it would be unfair (not to mention WRONG) to say or imply that tax dollars go to the care of ALL obese people (or any other similar blanket statement) Interestingly, not long ago, a few members of Congress bit the bullet and decided to participate in the "food stamp challenge" (link below) -- and they kept a blog of sorts about their experiences. Basically, what they realized is that it is nearly impossible to eat healthy food while relying on food stamps. What does this have to do with our tax dollars going towards health care for obesity? Well, when you're limited to cheap, easy to access food (in major cities, it's mostly corner stores with zero to limited 'fresh' meat and produce selection) you are setting yourself up for a wide array of health problems -- including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Essentially, we're setting up some of the most vulnerable populations for failure. Have you looked at a school lunch menu lately? It is atrocious -- particularly when there are children relying on those hot meals at school to supplement what their families are unable to provide on a regular basis. It's even more atrocious that there are programs that are willing to provide healthy, fresh food to schools for LESS MONEY than we currently pay out to food services like Sysco (sp?) and others -- and the benefits of these programs are exponential (not only are there studies indicating that improving students' diet is directly tied to improvements in behavior and academic performance, but we would be helping them learn how to eat healthy food, and we would be decreasing the likelihood that they'd be at risk for future health complications, including obesity -- which costs the US millions, if not billions, each year) Why don't we use these programs? Well, Sysco, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and the conglomerates that own the food services the public schools currently contract with provide perks -- like buses, scoreboards on high school football fields and various other facilities that the schools wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. So basically, we use tax payer dollars to create obesity, and then we use another chunk of tax payer dollars to try to fix the health problems associated with obesity.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Jillness thanks for the info. I definitely understand that health issues associated with obesity are expensive. I was just confused because Citizen said "taxpayers". To me, the use of that word made it sound like somehow our taxes were paying for obese people's medical care. I suppose in some cases, they are, but to me the inference is that obese people are on the government's dime.
tkoblondee tkoblondee 9 years
So it's Mississippi...right? ...consider the source....(no offence to my pop sugar family that hail from there!)
sugarbean sugarbean 9 years
Isn't this the same state that denied an adoption because one or more of the parents was obese? (note: it's a growing trend among the states -- and actually, other countries have specific BMI requirements for adoptions) (no one is claiming that the child won't be loved, but the courts are concerned about the lifestyle, particularly the levels of activity and the health of the child) *not agreeing or disagreeing -- just pointing out that it's a current and relevant issue -- certainly something that needs to be explored further
Jillness Jillness 9 years
(I think this law is incredibly stupid) Food related health disorders do cost society money. Food related diseases are extremely costly, and their treatment and medication are part of what is causing the increase in health insurance premiums and the reduction of employer health care benefits. (I know that GM reduced their benefits for ALL employees specifically because of cost of diabetic, cholesterol, and high blood pressure medication costs for SOME employees. WSJ). However, I don't think that denying people food is the answer. There are so many other ways that could make a positive impact that wouldn't violate civil liberties! I can't believe this is the "answer" they came up with!
brookrene brookrene 9 years
Hilarious! What a great suggestion, but a silly solution. They (the overweight people) need to get off their booty's and do something, i guess starving them is the answer now! Hahaha.
omilawd omilawd 9 years
There's a few problems with this: 1. How is a restaurant going to know someone's BMI? "I'm sorry, sir, but what's your height and weight? Oh, looked pretty fat; I thought your BMI might be over 30. What can I get for you?" 2. People would just have someone go out and get their food for them or take it home in a doggy bag. There's always ways to get around things.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
Allowing people to use their own judgment to refuse service to people they considered obese...? No way, dude.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
"Like, if a patron comes through that you feel needs to lose weight, refuse to serve them." Empower waitstaff to judge, that's brilliant. Not. I'm still in disbelief over this one...after the Jena Six this year and most of America discovering that racial segregation still exists, they're thinking up NEW ways to separate people? That's going backwards in a big way. I don't expect this to have a hope of passing, though.
UTnikki81 UTnikki81 9 years
Actually, it was 2 Republicans and, I'm sorry to say, one Democrat. Stupidity is bipartisan :-)
Not practical. WHo hasn;t seen the articles that talk about BMI being a bad way to judge whether someone is overweight or not. Based on their BMI, Tom Brady, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and George Clooney would all be considered overweight. It does not take into account someone's lifestyle. Maybe they could just use their own judgement. Like, if a patron comes through that you feel needs to lose weight, refuse to serve them.
sugarsister sugarsister 9 years
undoubtedly, a democrat thought this one up
divinedebris divinedebris 9 years
I agree with the idea, I think it's shameful that our country is getting fatter every day, but this is a sad way to go about it. It's hurtful not to mention unconstitutional- even though people will get angrier over not being able to eat fatty foods than illegal wire tapping. What about banning commercials for that stuff? If they can do it for cigarettes what about fast food?
ehadams ehadams 9 years
We need to teach people to be more informed so they can make better decisions, not discriminate against them and take away their privacy and freedom.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Wow the audacity ... Im all for promoting good health habits but this is crossing the line just a bit. Communism if you ask me, I can not believe anyone with a conscious and moral mine would think of such a thing. FREEDOM ... CIVIL LIBERTIES.. is that the foundation of this Country.
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