NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Warning: The Legal Push is on Against Fatty Foods

July 31, 2002

As in the attack on tobacco companies, trial lawyers and their followers are pursuing a two-pronged strategy to demonize companies that sell snacks, fast foods and soft drinks they contend are contributing to obesity in America. They are both legislating and litigating -- presumably to be followed by winning and collecting.

  • Senators have scheduled to introduce legislation allowing federal agencies to appropriate public funds to "educate" Americans about the dangers of excessive weight gain.
  • In the states, between 15 and 20 legislatures levy taxes on industries specializing in fatty foods, and at least three -- California, Texas and Vermont -- tried to levy additional taxes this year to raise revenue for obesity programs.
  • Trial lawyers have initiated litigation alleging that various companies misrepresent nutrition data.
  • Next, trial lawyers are expected to sue a manufacturer for misleading advertising, and finally, sue a particular company like McDonald's for not issuing a warning that a Big Mac contains more calories and grams of fat than the Food and Drug Administration recommends per day.

Critics predict that after a few years of this, and numerous investigative reports showcased on television, public opinion will have been softened up sufficiently to allow state attorneys general to sue the companies without risking election-year fall out.

Missing from the propaganda will be any references to personal choice and personal responsibility.

Source: Grover Norquist and Emily Sedgwick (both of Americans for Tax Reform), "Big Fat Attack," Washington Times, July 31, 2002.


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