Representative T. Mayhall, House, Mississippi, USA
re: HOUSE BILL NO. 282
An act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the state department of health; to direct the department to prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese and to provide those materials to the food establishments; to direct the department to monitor the food establishments for compliance with the provisions of this act; and for related purposes.
With all due respect, I think this is a very foolish bill.
First of all, if the BMI limit for serving is set to 29 then, if Governor Schwartzenhagger of California visits your state, he might not be served? (His BMI is 32!) Also if most of the Olympic athletes visit your state, they also could be, under your bill, denied being served. In fact a large segment of the population would be no longer eligible to eat in Mississippi restaurants and this definitely might be damaging to your economy! So I have to believe that the BMI limit will be set higher than 30, like for example at 40. Assuming this, the bill still has many issues which should be addressed.
First, according to the CDC's revised statistics, people who are in the BMI range of 26-35 LIVE LONGER than those in the so called "normal range", probably, opined the CDC, because the so called "normal range" of BMIs are underweight for most people.
Second, according to the 20 and 30 year Cooper Institute studies thousands of people AND the HAES clinical study at USC, the KEY FACTOR to health is lifestyle NOT weight. Even National Geographics in a show which was generally NOT fat friendly, admitted that the scale alone does not tell the story about health and that a person who is normal sized could have viseral fat (that considered unhealthy) while people who are considered "morbidly obese" by the scale i.e. BMI over 40 but who were fit, could be totally healthy with NO viseral fat (like SUMO wrestlers who by the way, might also NOT be served in Mississippi restaurants). And what you may not be aware of is that many studies which suggest that clinical obesity is "deadly" do not give a relative risk factor which is significantly greater in high BMI individuals i.e. the relative risk factor must be above 2.0 to be significant. And as one author pointed out, for as many epidemiological studies which suggest that severe obesity is "deadly", there are an equal number of epidemiological studies which suggest that clinical obesity (BMI over 40) is not much of a risk factor.
Third, will restaurants have to weigh people before they are allowed access to the establishment? Weighing oneself, even for slim people is not necessarily, conducive to buying a lot of food and/or enjoying a night out, and this, if done on a large scale basis, might definitely negatively impact the restaurant industry in Mississippi. That would be political death to the sponsors of the bill especially if large groups of the populace of Mississippi either stopped eating out or traveled across state lines to enhance the economic coffers of neighboring states.
If you watched the movie, "SuperSize ME" you would have seen Morgan Spurlock, the underweight man who ate 5000 calories of fast food daily, for a month, visit the doctor at the end of that month and while still underweight (he only gained less than 20 lbs), his liver was showing evidence of "fatty liver" or cirrhosis, and, his cholesterol and blood pressure were also elevated. So one might ask how not serving overweight people would help those people who are normal sized or underweight whose food choices might be making them ill inside?
Furthermore, I guess I am further, tempted to ask if you feel Mississippi restaurants can NOT serve healthy food that you are so concerned about overweight people eating there as to prohibit them access?
However, since most folks in the USA are beginning to understand that fat is NOT necessarily linked with illness or bad health, and they know that bad food choices are bad even if they don't cause obesity (which is the case in the majority of the populace who are not obese), I have to conclude that health couldn't really be a factor in this attempted denial of access but then, what can be, I am wondering, your motivation for sponsoring this bill?
Perhaps, this is all about allowing restaurants to -not make- "reasonable accommodations", like chairs without arms, for those who are very large and do not fit into booths. And of course, since, disallowing groups of people access to restaurants for non reasons, is something Mississippi has done in the past, I guess your proposed law, that way, would be in the tradition of Ol' Miss!
Or maybe it's something as simple as name recognition since your name AND the bill have been plastered in the headlines across the country. There is something to this even if the name recognition is negative - after all, didn't Will Rogers say "there is no such thing as bad publicity, only publicity"?
Whatever your motivation for drafting this bill, what you might not have thought about is perhaps, the families of those large people might ALSO stop patronizing restaurants who deny access to their fat relatives or might seek those restaurants which DO serve all people and thus it might become very non advantageous for a restaurant to choose to comply with your bill, wouldn't it. And the bottom line would be starving out small business persons and I believe when you are reaching into their pocketbooks, that tends to be a bad move politically, in this country where economics is so important!
I cannot help wondering that since you have had strong ties to a large pharmaceutical company in the past, perhaps this is all about selling folks diet pills so they can eat out. I understand that the corporation from which you retired, Merck, is working on a new "hot" diet pill based on marajuana - perhaps you are helping to sell this (since their current diet pill has received some bad publicity for being damaging to the heart)? Said somewhat tongue in cheek but, ok, couldn't resist asking. Pharmaceuticals have done some "over the top" moves to sell medications!
I guess you know by now, that this bill has made great news and your state has become the "laugh of the day" across the USA. Congrats on that. What do you do for an encore? ** smile **
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