New poll finds majority of U.S. electorate views obesity lawsuits as frivolous

Oct. 20, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 obesity-related lawsuits against the restaurant industry 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," National Restaurant Association (NRA) President and Chief Executive Officer Steven C. Anderson said in a news release. "It also conveys that people feel they should hold themselves responsible for their dietary choices. ... Blaming restaurants for obesity is simplistic and naïve, 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 from Sept. 7 to Sept. 10, asking how they felt about individuals filing lawsuits against certain restaurant companies for bearing the responsibility for their health-related problems. Ninety percent agreed such allegations are frivolous and should be dismissed, while only 7 percent believed 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 and International Research William Stewart.

According to the release, the NRA strongly supports litigation reform legislation. Currently, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are considering bills that would prevent abusive lawsuits against the food industry. Specifically, Rep. Ric Keller's (R-Fla.), Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, would prevent the food industry from being unfairly targeted with frivolous lawsuits due to the issue of overweight and obesity among some Americans.

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 unwarranted lawsuits against food companies based on obesity-related health problems.

Topics: NAPICS

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