Washington, DC – Responding to an overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose blaming restaurants and food companies for obesity, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to once again take up the issue of tort reform with a scheduled vote tomorrow on the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act—dubbed the “Cheeseburger Bill.” The bill protects restaurants and food service companies from the threat of frivolous litigation led by unscrupulous attorneys who insist that thousands of companies are responsible for the size of our love handles.
“Trial lawyers think we are too dumb to make our own food choices,” said Center for Consumer Freedom senior analyst Dan Mindus. “If that’s the case, we’ve got a lot bigger problems than obesity. Unfortunately for the American people, trial lawyers see dollar signs where the rest of us see dinner.”
Americans, however, overwhelmingly think obesity is a matter of personal responsibility, and not the fault of food providers:
• A 2003 Gallup Poll showed that nearly 9 in 10 Americans oppose the idea of holding fast-food companies legally responsible for the diet-related health problems of some of their customers.
• Two out of three U.S. households surveyed by ACNielsen said parents or guardians are to blame for obesity in children 17 and under, with food manufacturers named by only 1 percent.
• Opinion research firm Planet Feedback says Americans “are far less willing to blame the food and restaurant industry than they are to blame a lack of education and self-responsibility for the country’s weight problem.” In fact, 84 percent of those surveyed placed the primary responsibility for Americans’ weight problem on “individuals who do not exercise enough.”
In response to the passage of last year’s version of the “Cheeseburger Bill” (by a vote of 276-139), the Los Angeles Times editorialized: “If kids are chowing down to excess on junk food, though, aren’t their parents responsible for cracking down? And if parents or other grown-ups overindulge, isn’t it their fault, not that of the purveyors of fast food?”