The Mississippi state legislature in the U.S. is considering
a bill that would not allow restaurants to serve obese
people. How ignorant could the legislature be? Apparently,
The obesity problem that now affects over 1/3rd of the
U.S. population is a problem that stems from education,
or lack of it. Restaurants and food companies are also
charged with abetting the obesity crisis but they can
only do so to those who lack education, rationalize or
just don't care. With education, the caring aspect can
be changed around. The lunacy of the legislature proves
them as uneducated as the obese.
Research has shown that those who have been educated
in nutrition make better choices when eating. This bill
would not solve any problems, it would create more. First
of all, restaurateurs aren't in business for the skinny
man. Not only would this bill limit the amount of customers,
but they would also limit the amount people order and
therefore spend, since it can be assumed that obese people
eat more than their skinny counterparts. Another fact
to consider is who is actually obese? A weightlifter can
weigh a lot and may look obese on the charts yet has very
low body fat.
As recently reported in USA Today, many people disagree
with the bill.
Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research
at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge,
says the idea for the proposed law is "insane. I
don't even know how to react to something so bizarre.
This is five steps backward. This is not how you address
the problem on so many levels. "And what about civil
rights? It's totally unenforceable, and you'd be alienating
people. Most people who are obese don't want to be that
way. "Morgan Downey, executive director of the Obesity
Society, an organization of weight-loss researchers and
professionals, calls the proposed law "the most ill-conceived
plan to address a public health crisis ever proposed."
The way to fight the obesity crisis is education. Education
does not begin in restaurants. Is the restaurateur in
the business of education or food service? Registered
Dietitians, Doctors and other health professionals need
to take charge of the egregious obesity crisis and advocate
education. If nutrition is taught as a subject in school,
just like math or science, people would identify with
it more. The adage, out of sight, out of mind, is unfortunately
the current state of affairs in the nutrition world. What
are people exposed to more, fast food commercials or fruit
commercials? This is ludicrous; obesity can and should
be prevented! By focusing on embarrassing people, Mississippi
will not solve the obesity crisis. By focusing on education,
they have a fighting chance. It is imperative and admirable
that a state is recognizing the obesity crisis, but recognizing
isn't enough. They must look to the educators, do research
and find a way that works.
In addition, recent studies have shown that those who
have obese friends are more likely to be obese and both
parties deem it acceptable. The alarming fact that there
are more obese people in the world today than malnourished
people puts an added burden on the budget. As a single
healthy person, I pay $360.00 per month for health insurance.
This outrageous fee would be abated if there were less
sick people. Since heart disease is the number one cause
of death in this country and it is directly related to
obesity, the heart attack rate would diminsh with decreased
obesity. Imagine the savings in healthcare if half the
bypasses weren't needed? Billions of dollars and lives
can be saved and I would pay less for health insurance.
So Mississippi, you are lauded for attempting to take
a stance on this critical issue, now you need to educate
yourself on how to do so.
Shari Portnoy, MPH, RD, LD/N is a Registered and Licensed
Dietitian. She holds degrees in both Nutrition and Public
Health and has completed the U.S. Food Laws course at
the Michigan State University Institute of Food Laws.
She has been a featured speaker at the American Culinary
Federation National Convention and a board member of the
American Dietetic Association. www.FoodLabelNutrition.com