Weight Discrimination

Believe it or not, somebody has introduced a bill in the Mississippi legislature that would require restaurant owners to deny service to any patron with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30.

This raises an interesting question: is weight-related information considered private? On first blush, such an idea makes no sense – anyone can look at you and judge your weight, the same way that anyone can judge your eye color — but to me, the difference between judging weight from 3 feet away and pulling out the calipers to do a body-mass-index (BMI) measurement is a difference that crosses a critical line.

Would you consider your annual income to be a private matter? Me too. You may be able to take a guess based on the car I drive or the house I live in — you may even conclude that I’m well off. I certainly cannot prevent you from deciding I make a good living. I can, however, refuse to provide details, thank you very much. Those details, as guessable as they might be, constitute my private business. Public disclosure of such details would be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and invasive.

By the same token, my body-mass-index is also my private business. It constitutes something only I need to know. It is a piece of data strongly connected to my dignity. The idea that this information has to hang out for the consideration & judgement of the hostess at TGI Fridays is frankly repulsive to me. There seems to be an idea that this is no different than denying alcohol to a drunk person; the difference being that government restrictions on public intoxication are not expected to cure alcoholism. Do these lawmakers really think that restrictions on public eating will cure obesity?

One thought on “Weight Discrimination

  1. So i think this is quite absurd and i am sure unenforceable. But i think you should probably get used to the idea of BMI type measurements becoming more common place. The life insurance companies certainly already calculate it on their own when they process your application. Heart disease is still the biggest kill (and by association health care cost) in North America. We already tax other health “sins” like tobacco and alcohol. Given the spiraling costs of health care it only serves to reason that somebody (government) will try to contain them some how. As futile as a tax would be, however, this would be even crazier. The idea that TGI Fridays waitress not serving you would cause you to go home and hit the stair master is ridiculous. It would more likely cause you to go to the Chiles down the road with the waiter that will serve anyone and never return to TGI Fridays. Enough of this behaviour would in turn cause TGI Fridays to institute an unwritten policy to serve “contraband” to their heaftier customers. It is like the teen that wants to buy alcohol, somewhere, somebody will serve them; it just takes time. Alternatively, the BMI violator will return to the comfort of their own home and make their own fat food of choice. Next topic: BMI Not a Reliable Measurement for Defining Obesity. Bottom line here is that we need better politicians and law makers…

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