Republican Gov. Phil Bryant approved a bill on March 18 prohibiting Mississippi cities and counties from implementing bans on oversized food or beverage portions or mandating restaurants list calorie counts, reported the Huffington Post. In addition, local governments cannot prevent fast food chains from promoting kids' meals with plastic toys.
The law—backed by the state restaurant association and chicken growers—immediately went into effect in the nation's most obese state, where nearly 35 percent of Mississippi adults were classified as very fat in 2011, according to federal rankings. "It is simply not the role of government to micro-regulate citizens' dietary decisions," Bryant said in a statement accompanying the bill signing. "The responsibility for one's personal health depends on individual choices about a proper diet and appropriate exercise."
Billed as the "anti-Bloomberg" movement by some legislators, it comes on the heels of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failed efforts to ban the sale of super-sized soft drinks in the city. Last week a New York judge barred his plan that critics have deemed "paternalistic"; Bloomberg called the Mississippi bill "ridiculous."
While the state will take a hands-off approach to the eating habits of its residents, Mississippi schools can ensure the foods offered are "healthy and nutritious," Bryant said.
Bryant himself overcame childhood obesity and has been an active runner for six years. "Leading a healthy lifestyle is important to me, and it is a personal priority of mine to educate Mississippians on the importance of making good health decisions," Bryant said.