An Inclusive Litany

7/24/02

It has started. In New York City, 56-year-old Caesar Barber filed a lawsuit in state court, blaming McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC and Burger King—which he frequented four times a week—for his obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and the two heart attacks he has suffered so far. Barber's lawyer, Samuel Hirsch, says he has two other plaintiffs lined up, one a 57-year-old retired nurse, size 18, who ate fast food at least twice a week over a 25 year period, and a 59-year-old man whose habit of eating a pound of french fries a week forced him to walk with a cane. The aim of the legal action, according to Hirsch, was to "offer a larger variety to the consumers, including non-meat vegetarian, less grams of fat, and a reduction of [portion] size," along with tobacco-style warning labels.

[Ed.: Hirsch filed another lawsuit a few weeks later on behalf of several obese teenagers, alleging that toy and value-meal promotions were designed to entice patrons to eat the food. (As the Glasgow Herald reported, the lawsuits themselves resulted from barratry.) All these lawsuits came at the same time Gary Taubes reported in the New York Times Magazine of an emerging scientific consensus that consumption of supposedly "low-fat" foods leads to increased obesity due to the way carbohydrates are metabolized and to changes in eating habits.]

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