Fat? Not our fault

With obesity now a national epidemic, many trial lawyers have had their sights set on fast-food companies, à la big Tobacco. But not so fast, says restaurant associations and other food lobby groups. This New York Times article points out that since 2002, when two teenagers filed suit against McDonald's for allegedly making them obese, these hungry lobbyists have been working overtime.

Now, 20 states have passed legislation aimed to protect restaurants from such suits, which most in the industry consider frivolous. Such "common sense consumption" laws, as they've been coined, prevent any obese citizen (or otherwise) from seeking personal injury damages against a restaurant or other food provider through a lawsuit.

Such "common sense" isn't the only thing that apparently has convinced lawmakers, however; the food industry has given more than $5.5 million to lawmakers in states that have passed legislation protecting the food lobby's interests.

(More: Congress has looked into similar "common sense" legislation but has not to date come up with a draft on which members can agree. Here's some oral arguments from 2003 on the "Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption" act.)