Queensland pushes for fast food crackdown

The Queensland Government has called for a national health agenda at a Ministerial Council meeting in Adelaide today.

Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas tabled an agenda paper outlining the need for a nationally consistent plan for reducing the consumption of saturated fat, sugar and salt from fast foods.

He said a national approach on fast food consumption was “absolutely critical” for reduce the increasing rate of obesity in Australia.

According to Mr Lucas, 1.6 billion meals were served by fast food outlets in 2009.

"The high intake of energy-dense foods and drinks from fast food outlets are undoubtedly contributing to the high levels of obesity in Australia," Mr Lucas said.

"In 1980, eight per cent of Australian’s were considered obese, today its 25 per cent.”

Options proposed in the paper tabled today include:

• Regulating the energy, saturated fat, salt and sugar content of fast food;
• Implementing mandatory Nutrition Information Panels on fast food product packaging;
• The development of nationally consistent approach to require fast food outlets across Australia to provide energy and nutrient information on their menu boards.

CEO of the Heart Foundation,Cameron Prout, said that it was important for the foodservice industry in Australia to provide nutrition information on menu boards, which will help people make a better decision at the time of purchase.

"Providing nutrition information via company websites, in-store pamphlets and on product packaging is not sufficient,” Mr Prout said.

“Evidence suggests that people are more likely to notice nutrition information if it is on the menu or menu board and visible when they are buying their meals.

"Clearly, the greatest health benefit of nutrition labelling occurs when consumers switch to lower energy, low saturated fat and low salt foods.”

Mr Lucas said: “People need to be empowered to make informed decisions when purchasing fast food.”

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