In your opinion should the food and restaurant industries be held liable for the rise of obesity or not?In your opinion should the food and restaurant industries be held liable for the rise of...

In your opinion should the food and restaurant industries be held liable for the rise of obesity or not?

In your opinion should the food and restaurant industries be held liable for the rise of obesity or not?

Expert Answers
giftedteacherml2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


The restaurants are not to blame - they are a business to make money.  In fact, the government plays a huge part in obesity of cosumers as well through subsidies of US corn and taxing foreign imports of sugar.  This makes high fructose corn syrup a very cheap additive to thousands of different processed foods we eat every day including most foods at restuarants like McDonalds.  The cheaper the food, the worse it is for you.  Chains like McDonalds and Burger King feed us all; however, if you are poor and you can feed a family of four  2 - 39 cent cheeseburgers each or buy 1 bunch of brocolli for $2.99 a pound, what will you choose to put on the table?  Do you really have a choice?  What about boxed pasta (a box of spaghetti for 99 cents) which is basically a carbohydrate versus vegetables or fish?  Food that is good for you is more expensive.  People who can't afford organic food tend to eat more processed foods, hense obesity.  What about the terrible slop given to children in public school cafeterias?  If the government wants to help, they should invest more in organic vegetable farming.  Is corn even a vegetable? 

"New Report Links Agricultural Subsidies to Childhood Obesity" by Stephen Clark published 9/22/11 on


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even though I am someone who struggles with his weight, I do not think that the food industry or restaurants should be held liable in any way.

First of all, this is not a situation like the one with cigarettes.  It is not as if we don't know that eating too much makes us fat.  It is not as if these industries are hiding the truth from us and trying to claim that overeating is healthy.

Given this, it is clearly our individual responsibility as to what we eat.  The food industry and restaurants cannot force us to eat what we do not want to eat.  We are responsible human beings who can decide for ourselves what we are going to eat.

Finally, think about the implications of holding these industries liable.  We would essentially be giving the government the license to decide what we can and cannot eat.  This is clearly not something that we want the government to be doing.

People need to be responsible for their own choices and actions.  It is not the job of the food industry to keep us from eating badly.  It is our own responsibility to monitor our health.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No. Not even a little. Restaurants provide a service and people choose to partake in that service. If you are fat, it is not because any food-service provider forced you to eat their food. Access to food, healthy or not, has nothing to do with a person's obesity. There are many factors that make people overweight, not the least of which is a choice to continue eating unhealthy food or not exercising. This is not true for everyone, but in America, I think it is the rule rather than the exception. If I choose to eat six unhealthy burgers every single day, and I put my money where my mouth is (literally), it is not the burger shop's fault that I am overweight. The fault rests with me and me alone.

That said, I do think that restaurants have an obligation to inform people about the caloric content of their food and other aspects. When people are better educated -- when the information is out there to be seen -- they make better choices, but it is all about personal choice.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great discussion. While I do agree with the first two post, I think restaurants are somewhat responsible for what they serve. Let me explain. When one restaurant makes food taste better through the use of oils and salt, then other restaurants do the same to stay competitive. So, many places now serve extremely oily an salty foods. None of this is healthy. Moreover, restaurants try to make as much money as possible. So, they use the cheapest ingredients. In light of this, restaurants are culpable to some degree. Why? They put money over people's health. It has gotten so bad in New York that the mayor is proposing a law that will limit the amount of salt restaurants can use.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think we need to go to the extreme of holding companies legally or criminally liable, as much as we just need to sensibly regulate them.  I really dislike the idea that humans have no free will and are thus just the victims of fast food, cigarettes, what have you.  It's a dangerous precedent, and, well, a little insulting. 

Still, there is an associated health cost to large companies making a lot of money off of unhealthy food.  Regulations prohibiting the use of transfat seem reasonable to me, as does the requirement that health information on food served in restaurants be publicly and easily available.  What we do with that information is up to us.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't imagine (or don't want to even begin to contemplate) how difficult it would be to try to impose any sort of regulations on the ingredients used or manners of preparation followed by the restaurant industry!

Undoubtedly, there are food trends and patterns that are created in one place and adopted by other serving locations because they are less expensive and/or in high demand by the consuming public. But that brings us back to the bottom line - it's up to the people doing the ordering and eating to ask questions and make responsible decisions about what they put on their plate and in their mouth.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am responsible for what I eat. However, I must say that the photos of certain foods are quite tempting. Nonetheless, I am responsible for what I eat. I do admit that the photos of pasta get me every time. Advertisement works. I can picture the Cajun Chicken Pasta at Chili's as I am writing this. Perhaps, the restaurants are responsible for great advertisement. Bottom line: I can't blame anyone but myself for any weight problems that I may struggle with. I make my own food choices. Ultimately, I decide what I will order at any given restaurant. No one is to blame but myself.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The trans fat restrictions are reasonable, and I do think that full disclosure (not the kind you have to ask for a brochure about) ought to be the norm in the industry. I do agree that we have to make our own decisions about food and nutrition, but fast food restaurants make billions each year, and I don't think it's too much to ask for them to accept a little responsibility for the food they serve. That said, when there are alternatives, and in many neighborhoods there aren't, it is incumbent on people to make good decisions about what, and how much, they eat.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I cannot find any reason why the food and restaurant industry should be held accountable for the obesity problems faced in society. People make the choices to eat the things that they do. The restaurants are not "holding a gun" to the heads of their customers. Outside of the rare obesity diseases, people are simply making the wrong diet choices. (In the same why people choose to smoke, drink, or take drugs. It is simply a bad personal choice regarding one's health.)

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I completely agree with points made in post #2 and would add that many restaurants offer a decent variety of healthy options, but these menu items are probably not the most popular. Many restaurants have responded to the critics by changing cooking methods or food options, but the customer will always have the final word on what is chosen on any given day.

boblawrence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am fed up with the failure of people to accept responsibility for their actions.

Suing a restaurant for one's obesity is absurd!

That's the problem with today's society.  Whenever anything bad happens, we look to sue someone, when most bad outcomes are a result of our own behavior (or misbehavior) or acts of God.

No because the food the restaurant serves is up to its owners, we are the ones who make choises we cannot blame our obesity because of our choices on restaurants who are trying to provide food for people. in the end it was still our decision to have the cheesecake not the restaurants fault for having it on their menu. 

hodelpgine | Student

All of the mc Donalds are responsible for obesity in the world

bor | Student

(Some typo's in the above post, sorry)

States sued the Cigarette companies for restitution for paying out Medicaid $$ for treating smokers illnesses. If a legal product is marketed, why should a state be able to ask for such as complained of from the tobacco companies?

Here is another against Mc, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. I can't find the Court opinion on it, but if I remember correctly, it was dismissed like the one above. 


bor | Student

There were a few "Obesity" lawsuits filed some years back. This lone aginats McDonalds was dismissed but as we see from the beginning of the opinion the Court itself implies this is not such a simple matter of law.


This action presents unique and challenging issues. The plaintiffs have alleged that the practices of McDonalds in making and selling their products are deceptive and that this deception has caused the minors who have consumed McDonalds' products to injure their health by becoming obese. Questions of personal responsibility, common knowledge and public health are presented, and the role of society and the courts in addressing such issues.