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A Republican representative in Mississippi has authored HB 282, which would revoke the health department license of any restaurant that serves food to anyone who meets the department's criteria for being obese:

Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health after consultation with the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management established under Section 41-101-1 or its successor.


This is appalling on many levels. First, as a restaurant owner, I am in business to make money. If I opt to not serve people wearing shoes, then it's my decision to curtail my potential income in that way, not the government's. Additionally, for many people suffering from obesity, it isn't just a matter of exercise and calorie intake: recent research indicates that it is a complex issue that involves the particular collection of bacteria in your intestinal tract.

Can you imagine having to produce a medical voucher for a restaurant employee to validate every time you ate out? Can you imagine the additional overhead and red tape?

I realize that such legislation is probably an inflammatory attempt to draw attention to the general health of Mississippi's residents, and that it is unlikely to pass. It's primarily a publicity stunt, I suspect (I hope). Unfortunately, given Chicago's ban on foie gras, I can't be certain. Food seems to be the new battleground for the meddling "for your own good" police. Regardless, it's ill-advised, and if I were bill author W. T. Mayhall, Jr., I'd be worried about getting voted out of office next time around. You might have trouble getting your constituents to muster any energy over education, traffic regulation, and other quotidian aspects of governmental oversight, but people don't like it when you mess with what's on their plates.

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