Fast Food and Personal Responsibility: A Critique


Fast Food and Personal Responsibility written by Ninos P. Malek is an interesting article describing a law suit filed by attorney Samuel Hirsch against McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and KFC on behalf of his client who believes these corporations are responsible for his ill health. According to the author, Hirsch also claims that these companies give no information related to the nutrition on the products they sell. Hirsch also made his movement sound like a movement for the common man so as to garner maximum support.

The author believes that these claims are ridiculous and that everyone is responsible for their own health. The author gives examples of tobacco companies and states that consequences of consuming tobacco are far worse, but people dying as a consequence have themselves to blame. Author cites an example of comfortable lifestyle which makes it difficult for students to prepare their own lunches the night before. The author claims that it is not fair to blame these companies and also fears that ice cream companies and coffee making companies will be next in line to be sued.

Lastly, Malek has also claimed that there is a political agenda to the whole thing and that political parties want to benefit from obesity that is staring us in our faces today and promising to destroy the present generation. He cites the example of ‘fat taxes’ or tax levied on fatty or unhealthy food as a political agenda. To sum up his discussion, Malek feels that personal responsibility has a big role to play in regulating individual behaviour.

Analysis and Discussion

Just at the beginning of this paper we have quoted an interesting piece of statistics from the website of “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”, a Government body. The statistics shows that roughly about 34 percent of all adults in the US are obese. It’s very natural for someone to read this and not believe it or at least doubt the figures as it’s deeply alarming. However, what’s more alarming is that 17 percent of children aged between 2-19 years are obese. This is the age group that is going to lay the foundation of the US in coming years. Adolescence is an age when a child develops not only physically, but also culturally and emotionally. However, when one fifth of children in this new generation are obese, their problems will only compound over time. It’s a well-known fact that especially childhood obesity leads to serious problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks, diabetes, breathing problems like asthma, liver diseases among other very common problems like discrimination and low self-esteem. (Basics About Childhood Obesity)

17 percent of children may not look as shocking as 34 percent of obese adults, but the reality is much worse because this 17 percent is going to form up a major part of the nation and the rising trend in obesity is not helping the situation improve. Obese children are likely to become obese adults and with rising obesity statistics in the younger generation, things are only getting worse. If the situation does not improve quickly, how would it be with roughly half the US obese?


Malek’s claim of individual responsibility does not apply to children as children do not have the sense to distinguish good from the bad and they will just eat what they like. Children are also likely to observe and learn from others around them. Another important point Malek has not considered is that personal responsibility works only to an extent and an individual takes cues from others around him. Culture and habits of his close associates have a big influence on his decisions and his ‘personal responsibility’.

There is no getting away from the fact that the situation is extremely critical and while Malek makes perfect sense about individual responsibility and awareness; this may not be the most opportune time to debate on that. It’s time to take action and spread awareness, besides controlling at least childhood obesity even if it means using strict laws against consumption of fast foods by children before it’s too late. There should be widespread campaigns across the country discouraging parents from allowing their children to consume fast food. ‘Fat taxes’ is not a bad idea for a limited number of years considering the situation. Also, all the fast food selling companies must display nutrition information clearly at as many places as possible. After all it is a country’s Government’s responsibility to ensure that its citizens live a good life and remain healthy and the situation demands immediate attention from the Government to ensure the same. The best way would be to spread awareness and control obesity without using strict measures like ‘fat taxes’, however, if nothing helps, the Government will have to take to such strict measures.


Basics About Childhood Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retrieved on 20th

December 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/basics.html

US Obesity Trends, Centers for Diseae Control and Prevention, retrieved on 20th December 2011.


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