The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics   |  June 3, 2009

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In 2008, Representative John Read of Mississippi recently co-sponsored state legislation that would ban restaurants from serving obese customers. He later admitted that the bill was a publicity stunt,meant to “shed a little light on the number one problem in Mississippi.” Although controversial, Read’s bill exemplifies both the current perception of obesity as a national public health problem and the general sentiment underlying the types of interventions that are being considered to address this issue. The proposed legislation also demonstrates how policymakers can use or, in this case misuse, information about obesity to generate significant discussion on an issue along with ill-conceived legal interventions.

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