It's estimated that New Yorkers gained 10 million pounds throughout the past two years, enough unwanted weight to convince a federal judge that restaurant chains should do more to lighten their patrons' load. Restaurant owners, however, say they are being force-fed an unappetizing regulatory menu as record numbers of Americans--and their employers--suffer the consequences of obesity.
Federal District Judge Richard J. Holwell in April upheld New York's ordinance requiring McDonald's, Burger King, Outback and other restaurant chains with 15 or more outlets across the country to include a calorie count with their menus. The New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) filed an immediate appeal, which was pending before the 2nd Circuit at press time.
But attorneys who represent restaurant owners disagree. "The decision seems discriminatory, and at some level it seems unconstitutional to penalize chains [and not individual restaurant owners]," says Jacqueline Bozzuto, a partner at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. She criticized what she calls government's intrusion in the matter of food consumption.
"It has been the restaurant industry's position for a long time," she says, "that people have to take some personal responsibility for what they eat and how much they eat."