Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mississippi burping

"A Mississippi lawmaker proposed to ban restaurants from serving fat people. Bill text: 1) Restaurants "shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese." 2) "The State Department of Health shall monitor [compliance] and may revoke the permit of any food establishment that repeatedly violates" this rule. Rationales: 1) Mississippi has the nation's highest obesity rate. 2) "Mississippi's obesity rate cost Medicaid alone $221 million each year." Objections: 1) "The food police have gone too far." 2) "It's discriminatory." 3) The state should focus on promoting exercise instead. 4) "Some people are big and happy." 5) "I've seen a lot of crazy laws, but this one takes the cake. Literally." Sponsor's rebuttal: I'm just trying to highlight the problem. Human Nature's view: Banning people from restaurants based on appearance. In Mississippi. Great idea. (Related: The war on junk food; the war on trans fats; the war on soda; the war on salt.)

Fat people are less medically expensive than other people over a lifetime, according to a Dutch study. Findings: 1) Fat people cost more per year than smokers or nonfat nonsmokers do, but only up to age 56. 2) After that, smokers cost more. However, 3) fat people and smokers die earlier (by 4 and 7 years, respectively). Net result: "Lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers," with fat people in between. Conclusion: "Obesity prevention may be an important and cost-effective way of improving public health, but it is not a cure for increasing health expenditures." Critiques: 1) The study didn't include non-medical costs, such as lost productivity. 2) If saving money is our overriding goal, let's promote quick killers such as lung cancer. Old argument for the war on fat: Fat costs everyone money. New argument for the war on fat: Fat's costs are "immeasurable." (Related: Financial penalties for fat employees; obesity and responsibility; the war on smoking.)"

I love this section in Slate (Thanks D. and I've kept your title it is just too good.)

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