Saturday, September 14, 2002

suing weight watchers?

Back in May, Salon ran an article called Can we sue our own fat asses off? The author wrote that victories over the tobacco industry might lead activists to fight obesity by going after the sellers of junk food in a similar manner.

There might be some problems with that type of litigation. One of the most successful strategies in getting public opinion shifted against the tobacco industry was to focus upon the harm to people suffering from "second hand" smoke. Not the people who used cigarettes, but rather the ones who were forced to put up with the smoke. The Salon article painted a reasonable picture of the difficulties of legislating or litigating away the problem of obesity.

But, what if the sellers of junk food are the wrong targets? Susie Orbach, who is the author of a best-selling anti-diet book from 1978 called Fat Is a Feminist Issue, is claiming that the diet industry is to blame for obesity:
Fat Is A Feminist Issue author Susie Orbach has identified two main reasons for the Western world's obesity crisis ... a sense of guilt and the diet industry.

Orbach is now looking for ways to take legal action against Weight Watchers, similar to that faced by the tobacco industry in America.

'We want to show that that organisation knows a huge proportion of diets fail,' she told the Sunday Herald. 'Its profits depend upon that, and the recidivism rate is absolutely crucial to them.'
Of course, threats of a legal nature aren't the same as filing a complaint in court. And, the cynic in me says that publicity over threats of legal action against the diet industry might be aimed towards making the author's newest book a best seller, too. Regardless of that suspicion, maybe she has a point.

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