Obesity

March 4, 2003

Remember the lawsuit filed against McDonalds because that poor helpless New York City guy got fat eating all those Big Macs? Well, the judge threw it out and the guy altered the suit and filed it again. Trial lawyers save us from ourselves. Obesity, be gone! And that's the subject of my commentary today -- obesity.

You read about it. You see it on television. You see it walking down the street. I'm not here to suggest that we have no problem. I am saying that with the growing hysteria we may very well be stampeded into doing some costly dumb things.

As stupid as they may appear to a logical person, I'm afraid we're headed for an avalanche of costly lawsuits. No one will win except the trial lawyers and the consumer will pay -if lawsuits can't skinny us down. Maybe the answer would be a Twinkie tax on all snacks. But what is a snack? Potato chips, of course. Is it reasonable to tax a cheeseburger but not Aunt Jemima maple syrup and Hungry Jack pancake mix? What about Krispy Kreme donuts?

Maybe the approach will be government regulations requiring restaurants to advertise the number and kind of calories in each dish served. It wouldn't be fair to require this of Burger Kind and not every truck stop, every diner, every hot dog stand everywhere. The very thought of such is outrageous. Lawsuits, taxes and regulations are all bad solutions.

Finally, nutritionist can't even agree on what we should eat to stay thin. They used to recommend pasta and breads. Now it is steak and eggs. In days past we were to drink milk. Now it's red wine. The fact is -- consumers are confused. Everyone wants to get in shape but no one wants to exercise or stop eating. Ifthey really want the government and the lawyers to fix the problem, we are really in trouble.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.