Thursday, February 14, 2008

Deeply Concerning Discrimination Against People Struggling with Obesity!!

Obesity Society Denounces Mississippi Bill

Last month, a bill was introduced in the Mississippi Legislature in an apparent effort to tackle Mississippi's obesity problem, which is one of the worst in the nation. House Bill 282 proposes to ban all obese patrons from the state's restaurants. In response to the proposed bill, TOS Executive Vice President Morgan Downey responded, "We have seen many blatant efforts at discrimination against persons with obesity but none as cruel and as harmful. What do the authors think of this bill want to do: starve persons with obesity? Ban them from grocery stores?"

The Mississippi State Department of Health would provide information and materials describing the criteria to help restaurants identify obese customers. In an article on the bill in USA Today on February 11, Nanci Helmich quotes Downey saying the bill "is the most ill-conceived plan to address a public health crisis ever proposed."

Mr. Downey further lambasted the Legislature for hampering efforts at reducing discrimination against obese people. "Efforts like this assume that obesity is a simple matter of personal choice and if the choices are taken away or restricted, the problem will go away. In fact, we know that obesity is a complex, multifaceted problem involving genetics, the environment, and behavior. Simplistic solutions not only don't work, they distract us from addressing core problems."

By weeks end, the Mississippi legislative leaders had pulled the bill.

The Society recently published a slide presentation about weight bias that can be accessed at www.obesityonline .org.

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