HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Bad Public Health Initiative

The blog, JunkFood Science reports on a Mississippi legislator's attempt to combat the obesity epidemic: banning restaurants from serving food to anyone who is "obese" (a term defined by the State of Mississippi).  If the restaurants fail to comply, their permits to serve food will be revoked.   Sandy Szwarc at JunkFood Science provides further information: 

House Bill 282 was introduced in the 2008

Mississippi

legislative session on Friday by Representative W.T. Mayhall, Jr., a retired pharmaceutical salesman with DuPont-Merk. Its co-authors are Bobby Shows, a businessman, and John Read, a pharmacist.

The full text reads:

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. Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Mississippi:

SECTION 1.

(1) The provisions of this section shall apply to any food establishment that is required to obtain a permit from the State Department of Health under Section 41-3-15(4)(f), that operates primarily in an enclosed facility and that has five (5) or more seats for customers.

(2) 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. The State Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person.

(3) The State Department of Health shall monitor the food establishments to which this section applies for compliance with the provisions of this section, and may revoke the permit of any food establishment that repeatedly violates the provisions of this section.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2008.

Perhaps we need to re-think whether obesity should be viewed as a disability - discrimination based on weight in our society seems to be on an upswing.  Thanks to the blog, Feministe for the link. 

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