Lately, the pending fast-food lawsuit filed on behalf of two obese New York teenagers has been met with the same general derision as its progenitor, the Caesar Barber legal trial balloon. And why not? Suing a restaurant for one’s own poor choices is flat-out ridiculous, regardless of the plaintiff’s age.
Writing in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Kim Ode notes that one of the two teen petitioners is 19, which makes her “eligible… to make all sorts of choices, such as how to drive and who to vote for.” And, writes Ode, trial lawyer Samuel Hirsch’s claim that his clients are helpless in the face of fast-food advertising makes little sense: “He has to acknowledge that his clients also absorbed all the commercials for weight loss plans, for ‘lite’ foods, for fitness center memberships — even for the low-fat options offered by fast-food meccas. In short, there’s no way to avoid knowing how diet and health are linked.”
Tech Central Station writer Sydney Smith adds this perspective: “A child who has a McDonald’s pancake breakfast with milk, and a cheeseburger Happy Meal with a soda for lunch and dinner, would consume 2000 calories a day. That’s still within the recommended guidelines of the National Research Council. Choosing an Egg McMuffin instead of pancakes would cut it to 1700 calories, well within the recommended range. Compare that to a child who eats his meals at home. I did the math for a typical day in the life of my children, none of whom would be classified as obese. It came to 1900 calories a day. Clearly, it wasn’t Happy Meals alone that made these children obese. There were a lot of other factors at play — their innate metabolic rates, their daily activity levels, and the other calories they’re consuming at home. The responsibility for their obesity may not rest with the children, but it surely rests with their families, who are failing to foster healthy habits.”
So if restaurants aren’t to blame for America’s “generation XXL,” why on earth are trial hucksters like cigarette-and-obesity-shark John Banzhaf still insisting that “Big Food” is the next Big Tobacco? Columnist Bruce Bartlett sums it up nicely in the Washington Times: “What keeps this process going is not the pain and suffering of the alleged victims, but the greed of their lawyers.”