US foodmakers may be hit by lawsuits to curb the country's obesity epidemic. Speakers at an obesity conference in the country last week warned that lawsuits may be the only way to force foodmakers to produce healthier foods.

"Trial lawyers and (state) attorneys general can be extremely helpful," said Michael Jacobson, head of the consumer group Centre for Science in the Public Interest, by "filing innovative suits" that would encourage foodmakers to produce healthier foods.

Walter Willett, nutrition chairman at Harvard University, asked if food companies were liable for the obesity explosion with misleading ads or making foods with little value in a balanced diet. In an interview, Willett said that lawsuits were "the least desirable option," but that "it may be the default."

 The possibility of lawsuits will concern soft drinks makers in the US, who have been implicated in the obesity timebomb.