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Fat and the law: who should take the blame?

journal contribution
posted on 2005-02-01, 00:00 authored by Mirko Bagaric, Sharon ErbacherSharon Erbacher
The incidence of obesity in both adults and children is rising at a rapid rate in most developed countries, including in Australia. Some obese people are seeking to place the blame for their condition on the fast-food industry, as demonstrated by the recent litigation in the United States brought by two obese plaintiffs against McDonald's. This litigation was unsuccessful, and on existing Australian negligence principles any similar litigation commenced here is likely to suffer the same fate. Principles of personal responsibility, autonomy and free will should prevail to deny a negligence claim. The risk of obesity and concomitant health problems from eating fast food to excess is an obvious risk which the plaintiff should not have ignored and which he or she has voluntarily assumed. It is for the Australian Government, not the courts, to regulate the behaviour of the fast-food industry. The government should take action by requiring all major fast-food chains to label their products with nutritional information, and by imposing restrictions on the advertising of food to children.

History

Journal

Journal of law and medicine

Volume

12

Issue

3

Pagination

323 - 339

Publisher

Lawbook Co

Location

Pyrmont, NSW

ISSN

1320-159X

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2005, Lawbook Co

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