Big Fat Liability
Are We Responsible Enough to Make Our Own Choices?
Over the last decade, government policymakers and medical experts have become increasingly alarmed by the growing rate of obesity within the United States. Approximately one in three adults and one in six children are obese. Obesity costs this country about $150 billion dollars a year. Currently; government agencies, the court system, citizen watch groups, and even our school systems are all focusing their attentions on what foods are considered ...view middle of the document...
The question of who is responsible for making choices about the foods we eat was being targeted by the government and consumer groups. They wanted to impose legislation on restaurants and fast food chains to label their products with nutritional information to be used by the consumer.
The argument for the proposition that the food and restaurant industry should be liable for the rise in obesity in the United States is that the food industries would be forced to provide the consumers with detailed information on the foods they sell. It would also increase exposure to liability and a social responsibility to their customers. If consumers are aware of how the foods are prepared, the calories consumed by eating them, and the health concerns associated with excessive consumption of these products; supporters believed consumers would change their eating habits. This change in eating habits would reduce the risks of health problems occurring in both adults and children, and reduce the overall healthcare cost.
The argument against the proposition that the food and restaurant industry should be liable for the rise in obesity in the United States is the financial hardship that would be imposed on these industries. In addition, the food and restaurant industry felt that individuals should make the decisions about what they eat. Food products were not usually addictive and the level of obesity that was occurring could not be blamed on a particular company. The compromise to label food products with the nutritional value and calorie content for the item being consumed was made voluntarily in an attempt to reduce exposure to liability.
Following a political outcry in 2005 the US House of Representatives introduced the cheeseburger bill which protects producers and retailers of food from lawsuits by obese consumers. The Senate failed to act on the issue and the bill did not become law. Similar legislation was enacted by many states.
In my opinion, the food and restaurant industry should not be held liable for the rise in obesity. Consumers have the ability to select products that are healthy alternatives to processed foods. Government intervention is what has caused the majority of problems within...