Survey: Overwhelming Majority Thinks Obesity Lawsuits Are Frivolous

WASHINGTON - A new poll finds that obesity lawsuits against restaurants are abusive, the National Restaurant Association here said today.

New research by The Tarrance Group, one of the largest political polling firms in the country, reveals that the overwhelming majority of the U.S. electorate (90 percent) believes that lawsuits targeting restaurants for the problems of overweight, obesity, and heart disease are frivolous and should be dismissed.

"These findings are not surprising and stress what health experts everywhere are saying -- that all foods can be part of a healthy diet. It also conveys that people feel they should hold themselves responsible for their dietary choices," said National Restaurant Association president and c.e.o. Steven C. Anderson "Seventy-six percent of all meals are eaten at home. When Americans do dine in one of the nation's 870,000 restaurants, they have a whole host of menu options to choose from, as well as the freedom to customize those items to fit their individual tastes and diets. Blaming restaurants for obesity is simplistic and naive, and does absolutely nothing to help those who have problems with their weight."

The Tarrance Group polled a random sample of 1,000 adults across the United States in early September, asking how they felt about individuals' lawsuits against certain restaurant companies for bearing the responsibility for their negative health problems, such as obesity and heart disease. Nine out of 10 agreed that such allegations are frivolous and should be dismissed, while only 7 percent believe that such cases are legitimate and should be heard in court.

"Our research finds that the American public unequivocally agrees that restaurant companies should not be held accountable for issues of personal responsibility, and that lawsuits claiming otherwise are frivolous and should be thrown out by the court," said the Tarrance Group's senior vice president for corporate & international research, William Stewart.

The National Restaurant Association strongly supports litigation reform legislation. Currently both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are considering legislation that would prevent abusive lawsuits against the food industry. Specifically, the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, sponsored by Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., would prevent the food industry from being unfairly targeted by frivolous lawsuits relating to the issues of overweight and obesity. In addition, the Commonsense Consumption Act of 2003, sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was brought before a Senate subcommittee recently. It, too, is aimed at preventing costly and unwarranted lawsuits against food companies on the basis of overweight and obesity.
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