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Weight, Obesity and the Law
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Weight, Obesity & the Law

Overweight people intent on suing food companies for making them fat are most likely to target Hershey, the firm most North Americans associate with chocolate, says a research report issued by JP Morgan, entitled "Obesity: The Big Issue." The 40-page report comes amid concerns the food industry could face a barrage of crippling lawsuits from consumers blaming obesity on the makers of junk foods, not on their own decisions to eat french fries and candies to excess.

The obesity issue has already been placed on the global agenda by the World Health Organization. The agency is developing a global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. The WHO is also charting the international distribution of people's "body mass" for a map it will place on the Internet showing which countries have the fattest and thinnest populations.

"Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue. It has a major human and financial cost -- US$117-billion in the United States in 2000, fast approaching the US$140-billion cost of smoking," the report says.

Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kraft are the next four most likely to be sued. Recently, Kraft moved to head off obesity lawsuits, saying it would cut portion sizes, reduce fat and sugar content in its foods and stop marketing in schools.

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