JACKSON, Miss. – A state lawmaker wants to ban restaurants from serving food to obese customers — but please, don't be offended. He says he never even expected his plan to become law.
"I was trying to shed a little light on the number one problem in Mississippi," said Republican Rep. John Read of Gautier, who acknowledges that at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, he'd probably have a tough time under his own bill.
More than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi are considered it obese, according to a 2007 study by the Trust for America's Health, a research group that focuses on disease prevention.
The state House Public Health Committee chairman, Democrat Steve Holland of Plantersville, said he is going to "shred" the bill.
"It is too oppressive for government to require a restaurant owner to police another human being from their own indiscretions," Holland said Monday.
The bill had no specifics about how obesity would be defined, or how restaurants were supposed to determine if a customer was obese.
Al Stamps, who owns a restaurant in Jackson, said it is "absurd" for the state to consider telling him which customers he can't serve. He and his wife, Kim, do a bustling lunch business at Cool Al's, which serves big burgers — beef or veggie — and specialty foods like "Sassy Momma Sweet Potato Fries."
"There is a better way to deal with health issues than to impose those kind of regulations," Al Stamps said. "I'm sorry — you can't do it by treating adults like children and telling them what they can and cannot eat."