WASHINGTON – Sen. Mitch McConnell (search), R-Ky., is laying it on the line for people who blame their weight on the food industry, introducing a bill that will stop lawsuits that target restaurants and food manufacturers for their customers' obesity.
"It's not Ben & Jerry's (search) fault if you eat too much ice cream. It's not Sara Lee's fault if you eat too much cake," McConnell said Thursday. "We are not a society of victims, the decision to consume is a decision we make ourselves."
The Common Sense Consumption Act (search) comes at a time when 61 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, a situation that the American Institute of Cancer Research (search) calls an "epidemic."
The group says excess body fat and inactivity are linked to from a quarter to a third of cases of five different types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer.
The institute says that restaurants and food manufacturers are partly to blame, because they serve huge portion sizes.
"If [the industry is] inducing people to eat health-threatening amounts of food, then there is a smoking gun on tables, counters, display shelves, and food establishments all across this country," said Jeffrey R. Prince of AICR.
The AICR claims to evenly distribute the blame for obesity, saying it is the fault of the consumer, food manufacturers and the fast-food trend of enormous servings.
"Beginning in the '70s is when we really got into the 'super-sizing' and the huge value meals -- the huge portions. Obesity was rising with that," said Barbara J. Rolls, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University.
McConnell didn't dispel the connection between obesity and poor health but said Americans are responsible for what they put in their mouths. He said under his bill, Americans could still sue food manufacturers, just not for weight problems.
A similar bill has already been introduced in the House, where hearings were held last month on recent suits by consumers against fast-food chains like McDonald's (search).
As he spoke about his bill on the floor of the Senate, McConnell railed against what he called "predatory lawyers" and asked if the food industry is the target now, then who could be next.
"How long will it be until those who get speeding tickets begin to sue car manufacturers for building a car that people may decide to drive too fast?"
The American Trial Lawyers Association (search) says America's civil justice system already has rules to separate frivolous lawsuits from valid claims, and judges have the authority to kick out any suit that doesn't deserve to be brought before the court.
But McConnell said frivolous lawsuits are making their way into the courts and consumers are paying the price by fattening the wallets of personal injury attorneys.
Fox News' Caroline Shively contributed to this report.