by Kate Newton
As Mississippians continue the cry of, “Give me my super-sized soda, or give me death!”, they seem to be missing the point that those two things may go hand-in-hand.
For the seventh year in a row, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named Mississippi the fattest state in the nation, finding nearly 35 percent of their adult population obese as of 2011, and, by association, seeing higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and climbing health care costs.
According to Stateline, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant attempted to take a stand against the state’s poor health record last January in his State of the State Address: “As citizens, we must do a better job with our individual health care. Every Mississippian should realize that a sound diet and exercise program will save lives and reduce healthcare costs...We should not be the most obese state in the nation, leading the worst statistics of heart attacks and strokes.”
So, naturally, the next step for the governor was to do...the exact opposite. Legislation dubbed “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” (in reference to NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate unnecessarily large soda sizes, which was struck down yesterday) is on the fast track to being signed by Gov. Bryant.
The bill would prohibit city and county governments “from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids' meals,” reported NPR, on grounds that public demand should play the principal (note: only) role in determining what food should be offered and where.
Good luck with that, Mississippi.
Also, I never understood the waves of controversy surrounding Mayor Bloomberg’s big sugary drinks ban. The way I see it, major health reform has to start somewhere, and the way New Yorkers responded—as if you'd have to pry the bucket-sized cups from their cold, under-caffeinated hands—just seemed to reiterate how far gone we are into our junk food obsession. The ban would have had minimal effects anyway on banning drinks over 16 ounces (hello, people—-just get a refill if it bothers you that much), but the symbolism was, at the very least, a nice thought.