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In the Crossfire

Food fight: Who's to blame for Americans' obesity?

(CNN) -- The food is flying over what should be done about the obesity crisis in America. Will the food industry soon become the next target for lawsuits or do people need to take more individual responsibility? On the front burner and in the "Crossfire" with hosts Tucker Carlson and James Carville are Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and John Doyle, co-founder of the Center for Consumer Freedom.

CARLSON: Here's what this Michael Jacobson said, "We could envision taxes on butter, potato chips, whole milk, cheese and meat." Now, you said a moment ago you didn't want to coerce anyone. Taxes are nothing if not coercion. You do want to control people's diet, don't you, with taxes?

JACOBSON: I want to inform people, Mr. Carlson. Let them know how many calories there are. We're the group that fought to get the nutrition label on food packages. I suppose you and "Mr. restaurant industry" over there...

CARLSON: With all due respect...

JACOBSON: ... oppose that also.

CARLSON: ... Mr. Jacobson, you're not answering my question. You say here that you are in favor of taxes on these foods. Are for taxes...

JACOBSON: Yes.

CARLSON: ... on them or not? Do you stand by this quote or not?

JACOBSON: I'm in favor of something like a penny or two tax per pound of butter. And you -- provided the money...

DOYLE: Now -- now he's saying a penny or two.

JACOBSON: ... for education...

DOYLE: Two years ago, he put out a report with the Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., who heads his scientific advisory board -- Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., is the grandfather of the "Twinkie tax," who told "U.S. News & World Report" that foods -- bad foods, he called them -- should be pushed out of people's reach by taxation.

CARVILLE: I've got to tell you...

DOYLE: Now, this is...

CARVILLE: I don't think if it might not be a pretty good idea to tax Twinkies more than apples.

DOYLE: So what should we tax -- what should we tax...

CARVILLE: I don't know. Kind of makes sense to me.

DOYLE: James, what do we tax your poor boy at the West 24th, the one that you love? And worse than the tax, James -- let's say that somebody files a class-action suit...

CARVILLE: But you're not...

DOYLE: ... against that food?

CARVILLE: I don't...

DOYLE: People make choices.

CARVILLE: I don't -- let people have a choice. What I'm more for than taxing Twinkies or something -- just make sure that people know what's in it. I went to -- I go to lunch every now and then at the Shoney's out on Route 1, Alexandria (Virginia). And I went there today, and I thought about this show. And I got to tell you, there's a lot of pigs out there, Hoss.

And they go to that -- I mean, they go to that salad bar, and they're loading up on that crap. And I just wonder if they ought to not put a thing on there. This stuff will make you fat. And I mean, they're not -- they're not getting it -- they're not getting the lettuce and then putting a little vinegar on there. They're going right to the pudding and to the gravy...

DOYLE: And you think that if they looked...

CARVILLE: ... and the mashed potatoes.

DOYLE: If they look down, they're going to see they put on weight. If they can see the scale, they notice they've gained weight. But the fact of the matter is, it's their choice and their decision. And it has as much to do with a sedentary lifestyle as going after some...

CARVILLE: I think -- and I'm for the government telling people, "You ought to eat" -- even though I'm not -- believe me, let me tell you, I eat a lot of things I just -- I eat a lot of fatty foods. But I want to know. And I want to know how much sodium they got. And I want to wrap it. If they pack something, say this is a little (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CARLSON: But Mr. Jacobson, this is all sort of inexorably leading to class-action lawsuits, isn't it? People are going -- fat people are going to sue, saying, "Look, I -- it wasn't properly labeled. I didn't bother to walk up to the chart in McDonald's. I didn't look at the sodium content, therefore I got fat. I got heart disease, etc." That's going to happen, isn't it?

JACOBSON: I have no idea what kind of lawsuits are going to be filed. Anybody can file a lawsuit. I think it's interesting that, for the first time, some lawyers are looking at this issue to figure out, is it legal or illegal for a company like McDonald's and Coca-Cola to advertise junk food to young people who don't even understand the concept of a commercial.

DOYLE: Like, this -- this is something I never understood. Do you think these young people -- I've got two 11-year-old girls. You think they're going to pick up my -- my wife's keys and drive [themselves] to McDonald's? Parents got a couple options. They can turn off the television. They can decide when the kids go to McDonald's. To presume that these -- these people are -- are -- Americans are too stupid to select their own food and too stupid to raise their own children? I mean, I -- I would ask what's next. But frankly, the question is, what's left?

CARVILLE: You know what? It's more than being stupid, man. My kids, when they want to go, you can't talk them out of it.



 
 
 
 







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