West Virginia: 31%
The old saying is you don’t want to know how laws and sausage are made. Never was that more true than in Mississippi.
Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the country. 31.4 percent of the population is considered obese. So how best to address that problem?
Just tell restaurants to refuse service to obese customers—says one legislator who has proposed a bill to do just that.
State Representative John Read says he wasn’t trying to offend but the bill has sparked universal outrage among big and small alike calling it “ridiculous” and “insane”.
The proposal would apply to restaurants with more than five seats. Restaurants who fail to comply could have their permits revoked.
The Republican tells USA Today, “I was trying to shed a little light on the No. 1 problem in Mississippi.”
Read told the Associated Press Monday that he never expected his proposition to become law – he only aspired to draw attention to a pervasive health problem in Mississippi.
About 30 percent of the country are considered obese, two-thirds are considered overweight.
The bill will never see the light of day says the chairman of the state’s health committee. “This is the totally wrong approach” says Steve Holland.
Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, tells USA Today she fears this ridiculous policy will encourage discrimination.
“This brings bias against obese individuals to a new and appalling level, and at a time when significant progress is being made in the effort to stop blaming obesity on the people who have it and to address the social and political conditions that drive it,” she says.
By that she means soft drinks delivered to school vending machines,TV commercials for over-sugared cereals directed squarely at children and access of the poor to healthy foods.
Paul McAleer of the Coalition of Fat Rights Activists says in a statement, that fat people are constantly told to make lifestyle changes to solve their problem. He says the diet “industry” is fueling this push to discriminate against fat people who “cost taxpayers more, have less will power, and may be diseased; meanwhile, studies disproving these statements get very little press.”
McAleer points out that a BMI over "30" defines “fat” but is a “notoriously flawed measure of health as baseball players and other athletes would be deemed “overweight” or “obese”.
BMI or Body Mass Index can be calculated here.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, tells USA Today the bill sponsors "should be ashamed of themselves. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be for an overweight high school student to go to a restaurant with a few slimmer friends and not be allowed to buy certain foods?"
This may be one time the CSPI agrees with the restaurant industry.
A statement from the Center for Consumer Freedom, a trade group, expresses outrage. “This is the latest example of food cops run amok. Are waiters supposed to carry scales around the restaurant and weight every customer? Give me a break. What’s next? Will waitresses soon be expected to make sure we eat all our veggies?” #