Governor Barbour Prefers Trimming Gov’t Waste Over Constituents’ Waists

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April 27, 2011; Source: Sun-Herald | Where to trim the fat? Citing too much in state government, Governor Haley Barbour axed the creation of the Mississippi Obesity Council. Ole Miss takes the top spot for being the most obese state in the country.

The governor claims that this is just another layer of bureaucracy and duplicates similar state “blast the fat” programs. The council would have been responsible for producing a comprehensive report to show Mississippi leaders what works and what doesn’t work to keep their citizens in top shape. It would also examine the economic impact of obesity on the state. The 34-member council all agreed to serve as volunteers.

Earlier statewide efforts to curb obesity have included a 1992 commission on fitness, which recommended a still-existing 2007 state law that required every school district to adopt a wellness program, and a 2001 statewide council for obesity prevention which dissolved in 2006.

In June, the state was listed as the country’s fattest. It also has the highest rates of physical inactivity, and the second highest rate of diabetes.

Since early January, state legislators, employees, and others have pumped and jumped in an organized rigorous early morning fitness workout. Participants sweated off more than 3,000 pounds – evidence to Barbour that legislation is not the only way to solve the problem.

Democrat Steve Holland, who lost 140 pounds through diet, exercise and surgery, sponsored the bill and is determined to get his state in shape. He is considering starting a second, similar group to study obesity – just like the one that was vetoed.—Nancy Knoche