Do our communities need less options for fast food?
A recent report has revealed that Aucklanders consume the equivalent of 143.3 million Big Macs every year. The revelation has left leaders calling for tighter legislation around fast food and takeaway outlets in our communities.
The Helen Clark Foundation and Health Coalition Aotearoa analysis of Marketview data has found that Auckland fast food and takeaway businesses raked in a staggering $6.718 billion over the last six years.
ARPHS’ Clinical Lead for the Healthier Auckland Together coalition, Dr Michael Hale, says the jaw-dropping figures are an indictment on the food environment in Auckland and the lack of adequate regulation.
“Currently communities have no say over which businesses set up in their local area,” he says. “Even councils have no power to restrict businesses’ access to certain areas.”
Dr Hale says that although junk food and its marketing is prevalent across the entire region, high deprivation areas are more targeted.
Of the top 15 locations for junk food sales, 93 per cent were in areas of high deprivation (index greater than six) and 60 per cent were in areas with the highest levels of deprivation (8 and above).
“The choices we make about what to eat are heavily influenced by what’s available, what’s cheap and what’s convenient,” Dr Hale says. “So if our local shops are dominated by 24/7 fast food outlets rather than reasonably priced supermarkets, those choices tend to be made for us.”
As a member of HAT and the Protect Kids from Junk Food Marketing Group, ARPHS is seeking regulatory change that will protect the most vulnerable in our communities, our children.
“The Marketview data shows exactly why new legislation is needed, and fast,” Dr Hale says. “Forty per cent of our tamariki and rangatahi aged 4-19 are already living with overweight or obesity, and fast food businesses aren’t going to voluntarily reduce their profit margins to turn that tide.
“We need regulation that clamps down on the unhealthy food and drink marketing targeted at our children.”
JUST HOW MUCH ARE WE CONSUMING?
The data, which uses EFTPOS to track spending habits, also shows that measured purely as a single food item, the order for every Aucklander would equate to one of the following equivalents on average:
– 143.3 million Big Macs per year
– 584 million KFC Wicked Wings per year
– 319.7 million scoops of hot chips per year
– 112 million pizzas or 896 million slices per year