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Jewish World Review August 1, 2002/ 23 Menachem-Av, 5762

Larry Elder

Larry Elder
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Consumer Reports

THE FAST FOOD III VS. THE WHOPPER | Stop me before I eat again!

This explains a recently filed lawsuit against four fast-food restaurant chains: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC Corporation. A lawyer, seeking to eventually file a class-action lawsuit, found three plaintiffs who claim that the fast-food chains "addicted" them to non-nutritious food, inducing obesity and other related medical problems. Call them the Fast-Food Three.

Fast-food plaintiff No. 1, Caesar Barber, 56, says that his fast-food addiction caused his obesity as well as "diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and his two heart attacks." Incredibly, Barber said, "There was no fast food I didn't eat, and I ate it more often than not because I was single, it was quick and I'm not a very good cook." Why not sue the National Organization for Women for encouraging feminism, making it perhaps more difficult for this guy to find a wife who can and will cook!

Fast-food plaintiff No. 2, Frances Winn, a nurse, 57, claims that she suffered with a twice-a-week fast-food jones since 1975. Fast food caused her hypertension, high cholesterol and hyperthyroid problems, and she wants to hold the chains liable for inducing her to eat bad food. Why not a class-action lawsuit against Burger King for refusing to keep at least one or two treadmills per store?! (Did we mention this plaintiff's occupation -- that of a nurse?)

FFP No. 3, Israel Bradley, 59, suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. He attributes his problems to eating a pound of french fries per week, contributing to obesity that forces him to walk with a cane. By the way, don't they also sell salads at McDonald's? Just a thought.

Surely other parties conspired to create this national epidemic?

What about all these seemingly happy, overweight celebrities, giving people the impression that one can be both overweight and happy? How dare they! Overweight actor John Goodman seems happy and confident. Sue him for intentional infliction of emotional distress. And overweight Academy-Award-winning actress Kathy Bates seems content, despite her non-size-6 size. Quick, get this woman into a 12-Step Program. And how about a tearful guest appearance on Oprah in which a newly thin Bates tells us how miserable she felt in her old skin?

What about Texaco's responsibility, having supplied the gasoline used in automobiles and buses, which, in turn, transported people to the fast-food restaurants? How about a class-action lawsuit against La-Z-Boy, for manufacturing and distributing seductive, obesity-causing, comfortable lounge chairs and sofas? And, of course, we must sue Sony Television for inducing us to park our big, fat cans in front of the set four hours a day.

Just as smokers sue tobacco companies, despite 40 years of warning labels, this lawsuit asks us to believe people too stupid, too ignorant to distinguish between healthy and non-healthy diets. Incredibly, these people wish to hold Burger King responsible for their walking in, ordering and then consuming a meal which they later claim caused their obesity and health-related problems.

Former Surgeon General David Satcher claims obesity now reaches "epidemic proportions," causing 300,000 people to die prematurely. True or false?

False, according to "Big Fat Lies" author University of Virginia Professor Glenn Gaesser. He disputes the number because it fails to control for many other factors, including "physical inactivity, low fitness levels, poor diet, risky weight loss practices, and less than adequate access to health care."

The University of Colorado's Paul Campos says, "Furthermore, the 300,000 deaths per year figure was derived without taking into account factors such as yo-yo dieting and diet drug use, both of which have been shown to have devastating effects on health. Nor were variables such as class -- poor people die sooner than the well-off -- and social discrimination, which has been shown to have a very negative impact on health, taken into account. In short the claim that fat causes 300,000 deaths per year should be dismissed as an assertion for which there is essentially no evidence."

According to the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, which tracked tens of thousands of subjects for a decade or more, one can overcome much of obesity's ill-health effects through exercise. One half-hour a day of fairly brisk walking increases one's life expectancy to that of a sedentary thin person.

Undaunted by facts, a Los Angeles councilwoman proposes to attack the problem of obesity by reducing the number of fast-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods! According to her press release, "Poor nutrition is also common in low-income areas. Often low-income areas are inundated with fast-food restaurants that serve over-processed food that is high in fat, sugar and sodium." "Inundated"? What about the loss of taxes, loss of jobs and the big "screw-you" to consumer demand? Can't let those things interfere with good government, now can we?

Gotta go now, I'm hungry.

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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of the newly released, The Ten Things You Can't Say in America. (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate