Monday, 26 August, 2002

Fat People Sue Fast Food Companies

I must have been living under a rock last month when this story came out.  I heard the story on Marketplace when I was driving home this evening, and then searched the web to find the Fox News article.  I mentioned this as a possibility in my January 22, 2002 diary entry, but it still bothers me that it's come to pass.

A New York City lawyer has filed suit against the four big fast-food corporations, saying their fatty foods are responsible for his client’s obesity and related health problems.

The lead plaintiff, Caesar Barber, is a 56-year-old maintenance worker who ate at fast food restaurants four or five times a week, and blames his diet for his many health problems:  obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and two heart attacks.  He's the only complainant named in the suit right now, but two others will be filing soon:  a 57-year-old retired nurse who says eating fast food twice a week since 1975 caused her to go from a size 6 to a size 18, and a 59-year-old man who says that his habit of eating a pound of fries a week gave him high blood pressure, diabetes,  and made him obese.  "In 1993," the article says, "he passed out and had to be rushed to the emergency room because of the medical problems caused by his diet."

"I trace it all back to the high fat, grease and salt, all back to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King – there was no fast food I didn't eat, and I ate it more often than not because I was single, it was quick and I’m not a very good cook," Barber said.  "It was a necessity, and I think it was killing me, my doctor said it was killing me, and I don't want to die."

I'll bet his doctor said something about exercise, too.  He's going to sue the fast food industry because he's too lazy to learn how to cook?  This is ridiculous!  Talk about living under a rock!  How can these people try to hold the food industry responsible for their own bad choices?  The attorney in the case claims that the aim of the legal action is to force fast food restaurants to offer healthier choices, and to obtain federal legislation that would require warning labels on fast food similar to those on tobacco products.  Yeah, right!  If they don't listen to their doctors saying "that stuff's gonna kill you," it's damned unlikely that these fat asses would give a second thought to a warning label.  Not that warning labels would save the fast food industry even if people did read them.  We've seen how effective those labels were in protecting the tobacco industry.

I doubt that this particular suit will go anywhere, as public sentiment isn't quite yet on the side of the fat asses.  I think similar suits will be filed, though, with increasing frequency.  But in 10 or 20 years, when more of the population (and most of the judges and lawyers) are fat assed couch potatoes facing the consequences of their lifetime of sedentary self indulgence, they'll extort billions of dollars from the fast food industry in the same way that the States have robbed the tobacco industry.

Personal responsibility?  Ha!  Who needs it?