Fattest State In Nation Passes Bill To Prevent ‘Government Intervention’ In What And How They Eat

Mississippi’s obesity rate highest in the nation at 34.9%; image @PewterReport

Mississippi’s obesity rate highest in the nation at 34.9%; image @PewterReport

We Americans are a selective bunch. We pick and choose the objects of our rage and derision without much thought to logic, relying more on political proclivities to filter what gets our goat. One minute we’re demanding invasive ultrasounds of women daring to exercise their protected right to choose, the next we’re screaming about the audacity of expecting gun owners to register their weapons. We bemoan the high cost of medical treatments yet carry on like hysterics when a senator at a presidential dinner orders vegetarian. We’ll rail about “Big Brother” imposing regulations on business endeavors, then attempt to amend the Constitution so some of our citizens can’t marry. We spit ’n’ spittle about “nanny states” attempting to ban über-large sugar drinks, but get very quiet about the growing obesity numbers killing those same families while burdening our healthcare systems (21% of America’s healthcare spending is for obesity related issues).

Selective outrage. Leave your logic at the door, people.

Let’s look at that last item for a moment. New York Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban. A brave fellow to take on obesity in a country that could find fault with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative (healthier food in schools, encouraging exercise… the HORROR!), the mayor ran smack dab into selective outrage. Whatever one thought of the “Big Gulp Ban” (struck down by a judge for being too “arbitrary and capricious”), most intelligent minds understood it was about taking action to help reverse the 33 percent and growing obesity rates in this country. But rather than focus on the intent, value, and science behind the bill, it’s buzzier and more sensational to snark about nanny states and meddling government.

In fact, one state, speaking of states, was SO OUTRAGED by the audacity of Bloomberg and the “damn government” attempting to tell its citizens what to eat or drink, it wrangled its own government to intervene (funny how convenient “government intervention” is when you’re manipulating it for your own purposes!). Mississippi, which, in an August 2012 report, was deemed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) as the fattest state in the nation” with a full 34.9 percent of its citizens obese, has put a bill on Governor Phil Bryant’s desk for signature that will get rid of all that messy food intervention. From Think Progress:

A bill now on the governor’s desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals. “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in a state where one in three adults is obese, the highest rate in the nation.

The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican. It was the subject of intense lobbying by groups including the restaurant association, the small business and beverage group, and the chicken farmers’ lobby.

Mike Cashion, executive director the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, says the bill is a direct reaction to Bloomberg-style government intervention in public health.

So let’s be clear: in a reaction against “government intervention in public health,” specifically regarding food as it relates to the epidemic levels of obesity (i.e., portion size, enticing children with toys in high-fat/high-calorie fast food, labeling calorie counts, etc.), the fattest state in the nation gathered up its best legislative minds to intervene against other intervention, because, dammit, don’t tell us when we can put in our gullets!

Apparently government intervention is only meddlesome if someone else is using government to legislate behavior, not if you’re using government to do the same. Interesting. It’s also interesting to note that Mississippi is not only the fattest state, it’s third in the list of states who use the most federal funding per taxpayer dollar paid into the system. So let’s be clear on that equation, as well:

Mississippi: fattest state in the nation + obesity sucking up 21 percent of healthcare costs + state third highest in sucking up federal assistance dollars + state outraged by “nanny state” government intervention = Legislation of its own government intervention to prevent food regulations from being imposed on its citizens, obese or otherwise.

Yay, government’s fun when we use it!

But in fact, 8 of the 10 fattest states in the nation are red states, the states most resistant to “government intervention.” The states most teeming with people screaming “how dare the government tell us how to feed our kids!”; the states statistically most dependent on federal dollars.

Selective logic.

Fat kids, bad parenting?; image @HealthHabits

Fat kids, bad parenting?; image @HealthHabits

In the seemingly unstoppable trajectory of self-sabotaging behaviors, poor parenting, food industry collusion, greed, hedonism, cultural laziness and deflective health considerations, 42 percent of Americans are predicted to be obese by the year 2030.

So, to all my libertarian and right-leaning friends who sputter in outrage about the “meddling” government making presumptions that individuals and parents are “too stupid and inept to care for themselves and their families”… take a look at these statistics. Consider the “logic” of the fattest state in the nation, the third-highest user of federal dollars, stamping their feet at the notion of anyone telling them how to manage their eating habits. Maybe put aside knee-jerk reaction to anything considered meddling and ponder the reality that maybe, just maybe, despite the hope that families and individuals WOULD manage their own health without interference, they clearly aren’t. And that’s costing you, me, and anyone paying taxes a whole lot of our hard-earned dollars.

How about some outrage over that?



Follow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook and Rock+Paper+Music; for her archive at Addicting info click here; details and links @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.