Magazine article New Internationalist

Unhappy Meals [Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Unhappy Meals [Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act]

Article excerpt

The US House of Representatives recently voted 276-139 for a bill that will prevent people from suing the food industry for making people obese. The vote on the White House-backed 'Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act' came a day after a new study said obesity was likely to become the country's biggest preventable killer, overtaking smoking. The study found that two-thirds of US adults and nine million children are either overweight or obese. It attributed 400,000 deaths in the US to poor diet and lack of exercise - a 30-per-cent increase since 1990.

House Majority leader, Republican Tom Delay, praised the so-called 'Cheeseburger Bill' saying: ' "Ronald McDonald made me do it" should never be considered the basis for a lawsuit.' But with the fast-food industry spending millions on campaign contributions and lobby groups, testifying at Congressional hearings and influencing Government nutrition policy, it seems that when it comes to passing this bill Ronald McDonald may have made them do it.

Conversely, food does have the right to sue people. In a whopper of a legal precedent, in 13 states in the US you can be sued by the food industry for libelling a cheeseburger or other food product under so-called 'food disparagement' laws. …

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