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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Fat Americans sue fast food firms
American family
More than half of all adult Americans are overweight
A group of overweight Americans have sued several US fast food giants accusing them of knowingly serving meals that cause obesity and disease.


I always thought it was good for you. I never thought there was anything wrong with it

Caesar Barbar
The lawsuit - filed in New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx - says that McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken misled customers by enticing them with greasy, salty and sugary food.

"The fast-food industry has wrecked my life," Caesar Barbar, one of plaintiffs, told the New York Post.

Mr Barbar - a 57-year-old maintenance supervisor who weighs almost 125 kilograms (275 pounds) - said he regularly ate fast food until 1996, when a doctor warned his diet could potentially kill him.

Mr Barbar said he had already had two heart attacks and has been suffering from diabetes.

'Bad eating habits'

"I always thought it was good for you. I never thought there was anything wrong with it," he said.

A recent assessment of obesity in the US found that more than a half of all adult Americans were overweight.

About 54 million adults were classified as obese - that is people who are about 15 kilos or more over the healthy norm based on height - and hundreds of thousands of deaths each year were attributed to obesity-related diseases.

Health groups say one of the biggest culprits for this growing epidemic is junk food, and that the best time to break the cycle between obesity and bad eating habits is when people are young.

Fast food companies - such as McDonald's and Burger King - are currently participating in a campaign urging young Americans to eat a healthier diet.

A spokesman for a restaurant industry group has ridiculed the legal action.

"He must be aware that fully two-thirds of all foods consumed in America are consumed in people's homes. Is he proposing that we sue America's moms?" John Doyle of the Center for Consumer Freedom told ABC News.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Evans
"It's hard to assess their chances of success"
British litigation specialist Duncan Fairgrieve
"There are some parallels with other cases"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Fast food
Should you be able to sue if it makes you fat?
See also:

30 May 02 | Americas
31 Jan 02 | Health
13 Jan 99 | Health
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