The “air war” on fat — the recent media blitz of one-sided stories that have appeared everywhere from ABC News and MSNBC to NPR, Time, and People — reached CBS’s “60 Minutes” last night, where a piece on restaurant food served in schools (introduced with a cartoon of an obese child, a hamburger as large as his head, and the text, “Do you want fries with that?”) featured Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser repeating the same allegations against restaurants that have kept his book in the news (and on the bestseller lists) for the past year.
Virginia is having none of it: The state’s schools are resisting joining others in banning soda sales — a first-step “wedge” issue anti-fat crusaders are using to open up all sorts of foods and beverages to new government regulation. And neither is The Washington Times.
“The notorious John Banzhaf of the George Washington University School of Law is at it again,” the Times editorialized last week. “This time, the target is… the scourge of fast food and junk food in general… He and his compadres smell the tantalizing aroma of a massive class-action lawsuit that could hold the potential for multibillion-dollar damage awards – even more than the successful action against the tobacco industry – and on the same specious basis.
“‘As we’re getting more and more figures saying just how dangerous obesity is, people are wondering if tactics used against the tobacco industry very successfully and other problems such as guns less successfully could be used against the problem of obesity,’ Mr. Banzhaf [said]… Marion Nestle argues, similarly, that fast-food joints and candy sellers ‘can’t behave like cigarette companies… Yet there’s a lot of people who benefit from people being fat and sick, and the whole setup is designed to make people eat more… So the response to the food industry should be very similar to what happened with the tobacco companies.'”
The Times writes “this nascent legalistic jihad” ignores “personal choice… Eating fast food will not make you fat or unhealthy. Eating it excessively and to the exclusion of other foods will. In sum, anything can be abused or misused. But does that mean sofa and TV manufacturers be held accountable for the ‘disease’ of coach potato-ism?”