Research from Deakin University claims that fast food companies are “not doing enough” to address obesity prevention.
Increase healthier options and reduce sugar in menu items – these are some of the priorities Deakin’s Global Obesity Centre suggested to fast food chains according to their report on nutrition policies at Australia’s biggest takeaway outlets.
Ranking 11 of the country’s biggest fast food companies based on their policies and commitments to address obesity and nutrition issues, Subway came in first place with a score of 48 out of 100, while Domino’s Pizza ranked three out of a 100. The company average score, overall, is 27 out of 100.
Per the report, only Subway and Nando’s provided details of their internal nutrition policies when they were approached by Deakin researchers. Public commitments were “scarce” and limited to “providing product nutrition information on company websites.” The centre claims the raw data in the report was gathered from publicly available information while company policy information was provided by company representatives.
According to Associate Professor Gary Sacks, the report’s lead author, expressed his concern as takeaway food continues to be an “increasing proportion” of the average Australian’s diet.
“The average Australian household spends almost 32 per cent of its food budget on takeaway and eating out, and the average fast food meal provides up to half of an adult’s daily energy requirements. Unhealthy diets are creating a public health crisis in Australia. Every part of our community, including the fast food sector, needs to do their part in making the healthy choice the easy choice for all Australians,” he said.
Sacks also recognises that some fast food companies had already introduced healthy sides or drink options for their meals. However, he surmises that sugary drinks and fried food were still the default options.
“There’s a real opportunity for fast food companies to help address the problem by introducing policies that make healthier choices, like water and fruit or salad, the automatic option for kids’ meals. It’s all about making the healthy option the easy option, and that means making it more affordable too,” he added.
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