Fat Chance: An Obesity Lawsuit Survey

How would you describe your health habits?

  • I eat healthy and exercise
  • I eat somewhat good and sometimes exercise
  • I eat what I please and don't exercise
  • I don't really care
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These questions were presented to me by a college student performing a field study entitled "Obesity Lawsuit Field Research." Here is how I responded. How would you answer these questions?

Since obesity related illnesses are now the second largest killer of Americans, do you think people have a right to sue fast food companies for making them overweight and unhealthy?

This is faulty reasoning. I suppose people could try to sue fast food companies, but it is groundless to believe that these companies do anything to keep them overweight or being unhealthy. Food industries make food—unhealthy as much of it may be—but consumers must choose to buy it and eat it and continue to buy and eat it.

Further, buying and eating fast food is probably not the only reason people are overweight of those who consistently choose fast food. Their choices and habits are often unhealthy ones (some would say at the mere mention of fast food), including spending too little time trying to be fitter; thus they become fatter.

This is a strictly personal problem. I believe that if someone waged this fight, it would quickly get into lifestyle issues they neither wished nor expected to discuss.

If children grow up unhealthy and overweight because of their parent’s choices in feeding them, do they have the right to sue their parents when they reach a certain age?

I think it would be hard to prove that a child is unhealthy and overweight due to what was placed on the table over the course of the first 16 to 18 years. Despite what the child had to eat, I feel fairness suggests some examination of his or her biological and social development. The truth could be that the parents fed the child well but the child wasn’t active or puberty’s effect was to force him or her to be the kind of adult that must be more active and health-conscious.

It’s a stretch to play this blame game. Maybe parents should get an award for just feeding their children considering the problem of child neglect today. Should children, even the offspring of rape or incest, also be allowed to sue for being born, about which they had no decision?

What is more important to you: that the government protect citizens from harming themselves or that people exercise the right to do whatever they want and deal with the consequences on their own? How would you explain your stance to someone whose opinion opposed yours?

Let people exercise their freedom to choose and face their own consequences. The truth is most of us are more libertarian on this issue than not. It is not the government’s place to parent us. We wouldn’t like it very much. In fact, the government cannot stop any person from harming him- or herself if that one is determined to do so, whether they see it that way or not. It is the government’s role, however, to stop people from hurting others uninvolved, and this is why laws on smoking and drinking and cell phones and cyberspace are now developing at rapid pace.

Eating is a tricky one: a person eats to his or her own detriment—unless you’re a parent feeding a child or some company manipulating food science essentially to addict people. But how then can the government be so certain about these issues and control what happens at your table? It’s a sticky situation very much illustrated currently in the airline industry’s tussle with obese people and seat purchases. Can a company legally fire you for being too fat or refusing to partake in some type of health and/or weight loss program?

In the end we all have to be big boys and girls, do the right thing, and care for ourselves or just know that we have created the consequences that come on us.

How much does lack of exercise play into the fact that all children born after 2000 may have a 1:3 chance of developing diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is gene-based; Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-based. Most people have Type 2 diabetes that is resultant of poor eating and exercise habits. It is a known fact—and a proven one—that with healthy eating and dutiful exercise the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by 90 percent. In fact, diabetes usually disappears in those who change their habits.

How would you answer these questions?

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Comments 9 comments

ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC Author

Thanks so much for the link! San Fran is known for being quite progressive, but this sounds over-the-top--can't wait to read. And I'm glad to hear that the storm is passing over. Can't wait to hear of what you're learning through those great spirituals of yours...blessings.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 4 years ago from Southern Minnesota

Oh and thank you for the prayers : ) the storms are beginning to calm.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 4 years ago from Southern Minnesota


ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC Author

I've really gotta find that story on San Francisco--what a terrible thing that totally misses the point. In fact, it's a little insensitive to children who don't have as much choice as San Francisco (apparently) feels about it. The parents have to choose and buy, or not. There are other ways around this problem, but a problem it will always be for those who allow it to be that. It comes right down to personal choices...the habits we choose for ourselves. Always love your comments. Thanks for reading (and I've been praying for you).


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 4 years ago from Southern Minnesota

I agree that it isn't government reponsibility to parent us. I was disturbed when last year it was decided that San Francisco was banning toys in McDonalds Happy meals to discourage eating them. I couldn't help but wonder what the parental responsibility was. A company sells a product because consumers buy it. The only problem I see is the health care costs that fall on all because of these conditions caused by obesity. Otherwise I think ones health is ones personal responsibility and one should not be able to sue a company because they dont make better choices for themselves. My father died of lung cancer and I still don't think suing the company is justified. My dad knew what tobacco does and he chose to smoke. I am an ex-smoker myself and although it is a horribly addictive habit it isn't impossible to give it up just a painful process if one is willing to. "We have not experienced any temptation except that which is common to man". In other words resisting temptation is no more painful to one than another.

Interesting article and great questions.


ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC Author

Interesting, Nanospeck. What's your vantage? I've heard of all sorts of crazy lawsuits with things like this. I know there are food scientists that supposedly engineer foods to addict us; but doesn't all of this come down to us just changing our habits? I have to purchase and eat junk food and continue doing so to make myself unhealthy. That's a choice. Where does personal responsibility begin and end?


nanospeck profile image

nanospeck 4 years ago

I think there should be legal frameworks to sue the companies that make and sell unhealthy junk food!


ithabise profile image

ithabise 4 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC Author

THEHuG5, we are thinking alike. You pointed out a very unfortunate thing--bad food is cheap--and that really needs to change in America. I've watch a number of great documentaries and read some good books (In Defense of Food, Pollan) that really need to become front-and-center in this nation. The radical shift in food production and science in this nation is literally killing us; and what else could it be for except money and politics. Thanks for reading, your vote, and comment.


THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 4 years ago

I don't believe that anyone can blame their problems caused by obesity on anyone but themselves. You make a choice, you live with the consequences. Even kids who get fat by eating what their parents give them don't have the right to sue. Sometimes parents have to feed their kids what they can afford and the reality is, bad food is cheap. In most cases though parents simply don't know how to eat and they pass their bad habits on to their kids. This is a good, thought provoking hub. Voting up.

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