Mississippi, which holds the dubious distinction of being the most obese state in America, recently “weighed” in on New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s so far unsuccessful attempt to limit the size of sugar-laden beverages. What did they do? They passed a bill that would not allow for: (a) the ban of large-sized high-calorie drinks, (b) restrictions on selling toys with kid’s meals that don’t meet certain nutrition requirements (as done in California) and (c) any requirement for restaurants to post calories or pare back portion sizes of menu offerings. Ah, Mississippi.
For those who follow my blog, you know that I don’t agree with banning certain food items like 16 ounce and larger regular sodas and other sugary beverages. To me this is a Band-Aid that won’t do much to solve the obesity epidemic in this country. We get too many calories from so many items other than our drinks, so what would limiting one food item actually accomplish? The other problem with the proposed ban in New York City was that it didn’t apply to all food establishments, only those overseen by the health department. It certainly also doesn’t extend to how we prepare, pour and drink our beverages at home. So, okay Mississippi, I see your point there.
I also understand the kid’s toy situation. After all, in the state of California where such a ban on toy’s with less than nutritious kid’s meals (Happy Meals, for example) was easily bypassed and didn’t make one bit of difference. As far as limiting portion sizes, it would be nice to see smaller portions, but I believe that educating people as to what an appropriate serving size is will help them to self-monitor their food intake leading them to do things like cut their portions in half and take the rest home. This way the consumer wins by getting two meals for the price of one!
Where Mississippi has gone way off the rails to the detriment of its residents is in the abolition of nutrition information requirements. Why not? Don’t Mississippians deserve to get the information they need in order for them to make better decisions regarding the foods that they eat? After all, knowledge is power. And this knowledge is the key ingredient we need to better manage our weight and our overall health. What is Mississippi afraid of here? Why would menu labeling be a problem for them?
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant explained his reasoning for signing the bill into law by stating, “It simply is not the role of the government to micro-regulate citizens’ dietary decisions.” Okay…but please explain to me how providing nutrition information is micro-regulating dietary decisions?” All that does is provide details, nothing more. Oh by the way, did I mention that the legislator championing the bill, Senator Tony Smith, owns a restaurant? Ah, Mississippi.
Visit Lisa Tillinger Johansen at www.consultthedietitian.com, www.fastfoodvindication.com on Facebook at Lisa Tillinger Johansen and on Twitter @LisaTJohansen