2008 Public Policy Comments

Mississippi HB 282

OAC Electronic Correspondence to Representative Mayhall, Representative Read and Representative Shows Regarding State of Mississippi House of Representatives’ Bill 282

Representative Mayhall, Representative Read and Representative Shows:

On behalf of the Obesity Action Coalition, I am writing to express our disappointment with the legislation you recently introduced, HB 282. We feel strongly that as proposed, your legislation only encourages discrimination and does not help address the obesity epidemic.  We urge the immediate withdrawal of the legislation.

As you are likely not aware, studies have demonstrated that discrimination, ridicule and/or stigma against those with obesity do not lower obesity rates. In fact, the opposite is true.  Those that are the victims of stigma and/or discrimination are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.
The OAC strongly supports states taking the initiative to create prevention and intervention programs to address the obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, your legislation does neither and the OAC will be publicly condemning it in the attached national press release (see below).

We urge an immediate withdrawal and an apology to the citizens of Mississippi affected by obesity.

Joe Nadglowski
President and CEO
Obesity Action Coalition
4511 N. Himes Ave. Suite 250
Tampa, FL  33614

Obesity Action Coalition Calls on the State of Mississippi House of Representatives
to Withdraw House Bill 282 Discriminating against those Affected by Obesity

For Immediate Release
February 1, 2008

For More Information:
James Zervios
Director of Communications
(800) 717-3117
Tampa, FL – The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is calling on the state of Mississippi House of Representatives to withdraw House Bill 282 (HB 282) that discriminates against those affected by obesity by restricting their right to dine in restaurants. The OAC strongly feels that HB 282 is outright discrimination against the population with obesity and an example of the often misguided attempts proposed to address the obesity epidemic.

Introduced in late January, the bill clearly states that members of the Mississippi House of Representatives are now seeking an act to prohibit certain food establishments from serving food to any person who has obesity based on criteria prescribed by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
“HB 282 is the most blatant form of obesity discrimination. This bill completely perpetuates the negative stigma often associated with obesity. The thought of food establishments holding the power to first, determine the health status of a patron and second, having the ability to refuse service based on the determination of whether or not the patron has ‘obesity,’ is completely outrageous. The OAC is seeking immediate withdrawal of HB 282,” said Joseph Nadglowski, Jr., OAC President and CEO.

With more than 30 percent of the population of the state of Mississippi considered to have obesity, HB 282 would greatly affect the entire state. Discrimination against the population with obesity or severe obesity is already having a negative impact on the quality of life of many Americans. HB 282 would only further and strengthen that impact by intrusively affecting Mississippians statewide.

“We support states developing comprehensive proactive health programs addressing and assisting those affected by the disease of obesity through prevention and intervention in an appropriate manner; however, this type of discriminatory legislation is misguided and will not lower Mississippi obesity rates,” said Nadglowski.

To contact the OAC for further comment, please visit www.obesityaction.org or contact the OAC National Office at (800) 717-3117 or info@obesityaction.org.

The mission of the OAC is to elevate and empower those affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support. The OAC strives to educate individuals with obesity, family members and the public on obesity. In addition, the OAC will increase obesity education, work to improve access to medical treatments for those with obesity, advocate for safe and effective treatments and strive to eliminate the negative stigma associated with obesity.