Mississippi defends its right to be fattest state

God love Mississippi.  Sure the state doesn’t care very much about slavery or women’s suffrage, but when it comes to helping its citizens die of a stroke, Mississippi is America’s leader, bar none.

You see, the Mississippi legislature just passed a law, that was signed by the governor, banning cities and counties from passing any laws or regulations limiting the size of food portions people can get in stores or restaurants.  This was apparently in response to an ordinance that Mayor Bloomberg tried to pass in New York City, limiting the sale of absurdly large soft drinks.

Obesity via Shutterstock

Obesity via Shutterstock

Mississippi, you won’t be surprised to hear, is the fattest state in the union, leading America in the percent of citizens who are officially obese.  34.9% of Mississippians, that’s more than 1 in 3, are obese.  At the state’s current trajectory, by 2030, 2 out of 3 Mississippians will be obese, with Mississippi still leading the pack among the 50 states.

A report released last year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, and displayed on the state of Mississippi Web site, shows that just reducing your body mass index by 5% (equivalent to a 200 pound man losing 10 pounds) could have the following benefits in Mississippi:

If BMIs were lowered by 5 percent, Mississippi could save 6.9 percent in health care costs, which would equate to savings of $ 6,120,000,000 by 2030.

The number of Mississippi residents who could be spared from developing new cases of major obesity-related diseases includes:

  • 86,347 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes,
  • 66,897 from coronary heart disease and stroke,
  • 56,741 from hypertension,
  • 35,176 from arthritis, and
  • 4,795 from obesity-related cancer.

There are a few things going on here.

1. It’s amazing how Republicans, and their southern base, couldn’t care less about the Patriot Act, about domestic spying without warrants, about habeas corpus, but boy, take away their big gulps and they’re ready to secede all over again.

Or how about focusing on the economy?  Mississippi leads the US in having the highest poverty and lowest income levels.  Do you think the state government might want to focus on that?  Nah.  Much more important to pass legislation allowing student-led prayers in public schools, because when they all drop from a stroke, they’ll be needing all the prayers they can get.

2. It’s more than a little interesting that this anti-anti-big-gulp law bears a remarkable resemblance to an anti-gay law that US Chamber of Commerce has been promoting in state legislatures.  The Chamber of Commerce’s anti-gay law forbids cities and counties from passing civil rights law, and it repeals any local civil rights laws already in place.  Isn’t it interesting that this new anti-anti-big-gulp law in Mississippi is crafted the exact same way.  It almost makes you wonder if well-monied big business isn’t behind it, greasing the palms of politicians who are in favor it.

They’re even using the same Chamber of Commerce talking points that were used in Tennessee to pay the anti-gay law – claiming that they needed to ban local laws in order to preserve consistency and uniformity in the state.

“It doesn’t prevent local government from promoting healthy foods,” said Mike Cashion, executive director of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, which lobbied for the legislation.. “What it does do is prevent them from creating policy mandates for the sake of consistency and uniformity.”

Yeah, you’re all going to be consistently obese.  Good luck with that.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • tony braswell

    Funny you say that because that is exactly the blueprint democrats are following. They want as many people as possible relying on the government to ensure re-election. Problem is, most liberal Americans are too stupid to realize this. They think the government is doing them a favor by making sure that check is in the mailbox on time, when in reality they are enablers of a failing society

  • tony braswell

    Thank you Ken, your absolutely correct sir. However, it has become very clear to me that the people who are leaving such negative comments have probably no idea how the United State’s health care system works. They would just rather leave uneducated comments about something they have no clue about. HMO’s and PPO’s should look at ways to implement preventive care for obesity in their plans. It may cost a little more up front, but I believe it would save millions in the long run. Too many greedy, political driven decision makers involved, in my opinion

  • tony braswell

    After reading this article and some of these comments, I have to say you people have made me change my idea about the rest of the country. I know everyone likes to call us uneducated, country bumpkins and poke fun and laugh or whatever, but some of ya’ll on here are DUMB. You have no information whatsoever about the topic because if you did, half of you wouldn’t say the things you said. For those of you who may have preconcieved ideas about the state and its people, I urge you to come on down for a visit. Nobody ever mentions that MS is first in the country when it comes to charitable donations. Your talking about a state of 3 million people where probably close to 1/3 live in poverty. If all we have is a dollar to our name, we won’t hesistate giving our neighbor 50 cents. That sums up Mississippi in a nutshell.

  • djny10003

    That was a joke, son. I know how to spell “stupid.”

  • tony braswell

    WRONG! Its a country wide problem. Do any of you people do reasearch on these types of topics before you begin to make idiotic comments. If Mississippi became the healthiest state next week, the US would still have an obesity problem. The ignorance of some of these comments are somewhat concerning and somewhat commical. Besides, new studies have found Missouri to actually be the fatest state. Mississippi, come to find out, was actually the most honest state when it came to the study. We were most likely to tell the truth about our weight, causing it to seem like we were the fatest. So keep lying to yourselves America!

  • tony braswell

    Well I’m from Mississippi, born and raised and if I was taught anything in school it was how to spell “stupid”. Hahaha, calling somebody stupid and spelling it wrong. Obesity is a United States problem, not just Mississippi. Mississippi has implemented several state sponsored programs aimed at reducing obesity and promoting good health. We are aware of the issue and are taking steps to get it under control. Some of you people on here are flat out hypocritical. Besides, I’m pretty certain that choosing what you eat falls under the “free will” umbrella. Obesity is not the primary reason for high health costs, its the screwed up system. We spend about $4,000 more per patient on healthcare in this country compared to France. Yet when it comes to quality of healthcare in the world, the US ranks somewhere in the mid 30′s, France is #1. We need to look closely at our system to see what we can fix, and no, Obamacare is not what I’m talking about.

  • Ken

    The only thing ignorant and bigoted is this article. But you’ve got Mississippi on the fat.

  • Ken

    There’s so unbelievably much to blow up in this joke of an article, I
    literally picked one sentence blindly to address:

    “It’s amazing how Republicans, and their southern base, couldn’t care less
    about the Patriot Act, about domestic spying without warrants, about habeas
    corpus, but boy, take away their big gulps and they’re ready to secede all over
    again.”

    Yes, the patriot act is unconstitutional, domestic spying is blatantly
    amoral. BUT, the present democratic/liberal administration has extended
    the previous republican policies by effectively nullifying citizens fourth
    amendment rights if you live within 100 miles of any national land or sea
    border. Oh, and by the way, the president is authorized by our current DOJ to
    KILL any United States citizen, on foreign or domestic soil, without any trial,
    cause, justification, or evidence required. Huh. What’s worse?

    Anyway, good for Mississippi, take the small victories where you can.
    If government regulation were to limit commerce by regulating the amount of
    servings allowed at restaurants, that would harm the local economy be reducing sales. Furthermore, enforcement and oversight of
    such policies would be a terrible waste of resources. Beyond this, what the fuck does that say if
    your government can tell you what you can and cannot eat? People aren’t the FED’s property or pets.

  • Ken

    Well maybe if our health care system wasn’t so highly regulated (blame the liberals), private insurance companies would be able to charge weight based premiums, thus shifting the health care costs away from “normal size citizens”

  • James from Mississippi

    This was the most irrelevant topic to obesity I have ever read. why not look at the actual causes of obesity in mississippi not laws passed on big gulps. It just sounds like you wanted to bash a southern state for being the fattest and stereotyping them for having Christian beliefs then ridiculing them for it. From your writing style you sound ignorant and closed minded not to mention hypocritical.

  • http://fighttherightwingnuts.blogspot.com/ mike31c

    Fat, ignorant, bigoted… Yeah Mississippi! Welcome to the 18th Century!

  • shoes4industry

    Lies, lies and more lies.

  • shoes4industry

    Taking the rest of the country down with them.

  • shoes4industry

    It IS there fault. Being FAT has nothing to do with diversity or equality. It has everything to do with increased health care cost for NORMAL size citizens. Being morbidly obese is not a right or a privilege, it a drag on the economy, the environment and the health care system. Kudos to AB.

  • djny10003

    OK, MIssissippi – you DON’T have to accept Obamacare, but you’ll have to figure out how your stoopid state is going to deliver health care and pay for it, when y’all get diabetes, heart attacks, etc. Who’s going to pay for all those wheelchairs?

  • http://twitter.com/arleeda Dawn Vincent

    Well, if everyone dies young because of unhealthy lifestyles, then they don’t need Medicaid (nursing homes) or Medicare!

  • http://twitter.com/MarcDrummond Marc Drummond

    For a site that rightfully prides itself for its promotion of diversity and equality for all, attacking people with weight issues with mockery seems really out of character. You don’t know the life stories of people who are overweight. And yet, that’s the one thing where it’s still totally “okay” to make fun of people because of their appearance. Because, hey, it’s their fault that they’re fatties.

    Not cool.

  • benb

    They scream about the Feds intruding on States’ Rights but the Mississippi legislature doesn’t hesistate to prevent local municipalities from making their own decision on the matter.

  • emjayay

    I thought they were going to ban any requirement for chain restaurants to post nutritional information. That would really be a strike for personal freedom to not only stay ignorant but not be able to do anything about it. People should be free to eat whatever they want without being confronted with worrysome information about fat and calories. I remember the good old days before the intrusive federal government took over our lives and required nutrition information on supermarket food. If only we could bring back those times of Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows best and racism and smoking cigarettes wherever you want whenever you want.
    Forbidding portion and size control is only symbolic legislation about something that wasn’t ever going to happen anyway anywhere in Mississippi.

  • emjayay

    Thankyou. I’m switching to a diet of coke and potato chips with sour creap dip and onion rings with ketchup and mayonaise and Big Macs and Hostess cupcakes when they come back, now that I know it won’t matter at all to my health. Meanwhile thank god there’s Little Debbie snackcakes. Fortunately the 4XL sweatpants section at Kmart has everything on clearance sale right now.

  • ron

    im sure everyone will be shocked to learn that there is no “consistency and uniformity” when it come to alcohol sales in mississippi.

    “There are many dry counties in which it is illegal to possess alcoholic beverages, though some cities within dry counties have voted in beer sales.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_the_United_States

  • WillnPL

    I lived in Mississippi for 10 years and it’s not as bad as its reputation, but it’s not as good as it should be.

    I wonder if this law has any impact on all the local options regarding alcohol. In the county where I lived, I could buy cold beer in grocery stores, but not wine or liquor. The next county over, where Mississippi State U was located, forbade the sale of cold beer though you could buy it warm. I guess it was to discourage the frat boys buying beer and drinking it on the way back to the house. I discovered this quirk when I stop in a convenience store to get some cold beer for a party. The helpful clerk offered to sell be a cooler and some ice when I told him I didn’t want warm beer.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    The rates of obesity in America correlate directly with political leanings as expressed in voting patterns. This same pattern is clear when you look at which states receive the most federal dollars in welfare and money paid out from federal taxes. I don’t think I would be far off to suggest that willful ignorance of science and fact and reality play a large role in both instances, the obesity epidemic, and the political landscape.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    Is that the only part of the body you can’t sell?
    ;-)

  • shame on fat haters

    The recipe for type 2 diabetes is to be born with the gene(s) for it.

    Geez. If anyone here — supposedly liberal, pro-LGBTQ, anti-racist — is interested in not being bigots against fat people, a few primers:

    http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/

    Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata (Keys starvation study extrapolated to dieting, frightening revelation that all research debunking “obesity” research is ignored, fat people aren’t fat because they overeat/under-exercise/are crazy)

    Losing It by Laura Fraser (debunks all major modern Western reducing diets)

    The Diet Myth by Paul Campos (especially for the “obesity paradox” as well as debunking the study that began the current moral panic about the fake “obesity epidemic”)

    Big Fat Lies by Glenn A. Gaesser (fat does not cause heart disease, diabetes)

    http://www.bigfatblog.com/ancel-keys-starvation-study-discussed-psychology-today

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/10/junkfood-science-exclusive-big-one.html (“healthy” eating does not affect health outcomes)

  • http://twitter.com/BillFromDover Bill from Dover

    Well… slime my pink thing?

  • nicho

    Mmmmmmmm, hormones.

  • bkmn

    Fat, dumb and stupid. That is how the folks with money want to make sure the people in Mississippi can be counted on to keep electing the people to office that will work against their own interests.

  • silas1898

    The tainters need better lobbyists.

  • Naja pallida

    Sounds like natural selection to me.

  • Naja pallida

    But hormone and antibiotic laden, ammonia dipped sludge is a-okay!

  • FLL

    They’re going to Chick-fil-A like lemmings running off the cliff. Chick-fil-A is chicken rolled in flour, sugar and butter, and then deep fried. The recipe for Type 2 diabetes.

  • nicho

    Government does it all the time. For example, you can’t sell tainted meat.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I have absolutely no sympathy for government regulating the commercial choices of citizens. A perfect example is Bloomberg’s banning gigantor sweet drinks in NYC.

  • nicho

    We’ll show you liberals. We’re gonna eat until we ‘splode.

  • http://thebrainpolice.blogspot.com microdot

    Yeah well, they might as well make this their new state song: http;//youtu.be/AIXUgtNC4Kc

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