NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 5, 2008

Mississippi legislators are rightfully concerned that residents of their state have about the highest proportion of obesity in the whole country.  So, what do they want to do about it?  Prevent the fatties from dining out, says Ruth Kava, Director of Nutrition at the American Council on Science and Health.

  • Several members of the state's House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would have the state's health department set the limits on who is obese.
  • These guidelines would be sent to all restaurants, which would then be enjoined from serving customers who fall into the dreaded obese category.

It's an interesting proposal, but the implementation might be just a little tricky, says Kava.  Can't you just see it now -- you walk into your favorite restaurant, but before you can order, you have to be weighed (with or without shoes?) and measured and your Body Mass Index determined.  And if you come out obese, well, too bad -- no lunch today!

It's unlikely that such a law will ever become reality, says Kava, but the fact that it's been proposed shows how crazy it's getting out there:

  • It's unlikely that all overweight or obese people are in such a condition because of the food they eat in restaurants alone.
  • Such a regulation would do nothing to educate people about how to practice healthful dietary and lifestyle choices.
  • Obese people have to deal with enough discrimination already -- why embarrass them further with an obviously punitive law?

It's true that many Mississippians have weight control issues -- but a law like this one would do nothing to help improve the situation, says Kava.

Source: Ruth Kava, "Mississippians vs. Lard," American Council on Science and Health, February 4, 2008.

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