Joel Mowbray
As we approach the food-filled holidays, it is important to remember that food--fast or otherwise--is not the enemy. If only trial lawyers could figure that out. Law suits blaming the fast food industry for making fat people, well, fat are becoming so common that CRC Publications just launched the "Obesity Policy Reporter" to keep tabs on the pending litigation. Arguing that the tobacco theory of liability should apply to fast food shops, trial lawyers are attempting to bilk burger joints for billions. But the finger should not be pointed at the purveyors of greasy goodies; the blame must fall squarely on the shoulders of people bringing the "fat" law suits. How do I know this? Because I used to be fat. Really fat. I binged on fast food and junk food, and just about anything I could get my hands on. Finally, I decided, "The fat stops here." So, I binged on fast food. I'll explain. About two years ago, a suit salesman told me that I needed a size 50 jacket. I protested--mightily. But I was wrong, and worse, he was right. When the tailor was marking the suit for alterations, I told him to cut it tight--because I was going to start losing weight the next day. The 50-ish immigrant from North Africa could sense my dogged determination. He looked at me with sympathetic eyes, and in a think accent chortled, "Yeah, right." Much to the tailor's surprise, and most everyone else's, I started losing weight. Having ballooned on the high-carb, low-fat diet, a different strategy was necessary. The high-protein Atkins diet intrigued me, but the cost of constantly preparing chicken and steak seemed prohibitive. Frankly, as a struggling entrepreneur at the time, anything pricier than a 20-cent package of ramen noodles would have put a crimp in my wallet. What to do? With no time to prepare a home-cooked meal and no money to buy a decent one, fast food became my diet's savior. Without the drive-thru lane, my Atkins diet would not have happened, and I'd probably still be wearing a size 50 jacket. One of my two daily meals consisted of several double cheeseburgers, minus the buns of course. Because I was too timid (and proud) to order burgers without the buns, I had to manually separate the beef from the bun. Oh, what a sight it was. But after shedding 80 pounds in five months, oh what a sight I was. The point of my plight is not that everyone should indulge in fast food. But much-maligned fast food, unlike tobacco, can be used to actually benefit people. If it hadn't been for the quick and inexpensive nutrition provided by fast food, weight loss would have eluded me--leaving me at an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. But in a society that revels in a cult of victimology, it should not be surprising that trial lawyers are blaming fast food chains for the growing girth of the nation. We have no one to blame but ourselves. The epidemic of expanding waistlines can by traced directly to the abandonment of personal responsibility. In a world where no one is responsible for his or her actions, why should weight be any different? Look at how we "diet." We want weight loss in a pill or in pre-packaged foods designed to eliminate sacrifice. Dieting is chic so long as it still includes low-fat cookies and potato chips. No wonder we're an increasingly corpulent country. I speak from experience that eating low-fat snacks and drinking Diet Coke does little more than soothe the conscience. Our instant gratification society has eschewed the time-honored tradition of hard work yielding tangible results. We still want the bigger, better, faster, more--we just want it without sacrifice. Even a diet containing daily doses of fast food requires sacrifice, though. I had to avoid whole host of verboten foods, and I had to coax myself into an actual exercise regimen--and it was worth every ounce of effort I expended. But if I had wasted my energy suing Ronald McDonald and his buddies, I wouldn't have looked within myself to find the guts to lose my gut.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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