A first-of-its kind evaluation of the nutrition policies of Australia’s 11 biggest fast food companies suggests they aren’t doing enough to address the obesity crisis.
Researchers at Deakin University scored the fast food chains according to their nutrition policies, including marketing to children, disclosure of nutritional information and plans to reduce sugar and saturated fat. All failed to secure a pass mark.
Subway was the best performer, scoring 48 points out of 100. Domino’s Pizza was the lowest ranked fast food chain with a score of three out of 100, while the average score was 27 points.
The ‘Inside our Quick Service Restaurants’ report also revealed a lack of transparency on the issue. Just two companies, Subway and Nando’s, provided detail of their internal nutrition policies when approached by the researchers.
Lead author, Associate Professor Gary Sacks, said every section of the community needs to do their part in halting soaring obesity rates. Currently, he said, fast food companies are failing to make the healthy option the easy one for customers, with sugary drinks and fried food still the default. Food extremely high in salt, sugar and fat are also still heavily promoted by the chains, said Prof Sacks.
“Like $1 frozen cokes, which clock in at more than 15 teaspoons of sugar, or two-for-one whoppers, which contain a whopping 40 grams of fat,” he said.
The report lists a number of policy priorities for fast food companies, including targets to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat. It also calls for smaller portion sizes and healthier kids meals.
“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,” said Prof Sacks.