Last October, the Centers for Disease Control released data suggesting that Americans overall have gained weight, but it’s wrong to assume – as reporters Marty Meitus and Thom Wise did in a recent article (” Piling it on as portions grow”) – that restaurants are to blame. They claim that because some restaurants “are serving bigger-than-ever portions . . . you have a good recipe for becoming fat.” But these meals are delivered in response to customer requests for them – not at gunpoint.
Restaurant operators do not force their customers to order bacon double- cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake. Quite the opposite: Those foods are on the menu because of broad customer demand for them. Even McDonald’s offers a low-cal salad in response to customer demand. There isn’t a restaurant in America that doesn’t strive to meet the expectations of its customers who are paying good money for their meals and demanding value. Everything the server brings to the table has been ordered by someone who wants to eat it.
Legions of trial lawyers and consumer activists now work to separate people from the responsibility of their own actions and decisions. They want to create a legal and social climate that turns satisfied customers into ” victims” and restaurant owners into deep-pocketed villains who are force- feeding people.
The same legal strategies used in massive class-action suits against the tobacco industry and gun manufacturers are now being openly talked about as a way of addressing the obesity “epidemic.” As a society, we’re courting disaster, however, if we continue to choose litigation over personal responsibility. A responsible media need to be cautious not to assign blame where it is not deserved.