Health conscious consumers may be unwittingly ordering energy dense snacks and drinks, which may contain up to a quarter of their daily kilojoule intake, due to a lack of clear menu labelling, said Jane Martin, Senior Policy Adviser for the Obesity Policy Coalition
"Many consumers would be surprised to find that some seemingly innocuous items such as frappes and smoothies contain around a quarter of an adult's recommended daily energy intake. To make matters worse many products with healthy sounding names are at the top of the worst offenders list.
"As consumers are becoming more health conscious, fast food outlets are capitalising on this by promoting 'healthier options'; however, in many cases these products are equally high in energy as some standard menu items.
"Some of the highest kilojoule have names such as the Blueberry Blast, Garden Goodness and Green Tea Venti. While some of these products contain valuable nutrients, few people would realise that there's less than a 100 kilojoules difference between a Big Mac and the McDonald's Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad," she said.
However an announcement today by the Brumby Government will force chain fast food restaurants to include the kilojoule count for each menu item including drinks.
"Clearer labelling on menus at fast food outlets will help consumers sort the fat from the fiction at a glance. This is particularly important when you consider that within five years one-third of Australians will be obese.
"The OPC would like to see labelling taken one step further with traffic light labels, whereby foods are colour coded based on whether levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt are high, medium and low, placed on menus.
"We know there is public support for traffic light labelling on menus - 85% of consumers surveyed by Cancer Council Victoria are in favour of this type of labelling on menu boards at fast food outlets. We've also seen the effect of kilojoule labelling in certain parts of America and the decrease in energy consumed as a result. The US is now rolling out menu and vending machine labelling nationally for chains of 20 outlets or more."
"The Brumby Government's decision today is an important first step and puts Victoria at the forefront of obesity prevention. We call on the Federal Government in its food labelling review to adopt improved menu labelling across Australia," said Ms Martin.
10 Takeaway Hidden Fat Offenders
||Green Tea Cream Venti
||Sweet Chilli Cayan Grilled Melt
||Vegie burger + mayo
||Garden Goodness Vege Burger + herb mayo
||Chicken Caesar Salad + dressing
||6-inch Spicy Italian
||Blueberry Blast low fat smoothie original
||Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad with dressing
(Big Mac = 2060)
||Large Mango Fruit Chiller
||Skinfree Grilled Chicken Baguette
*The recommended average kilojoules per day for an adult is 8,700.
About the Obesity Policy Coalition
The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies who are concerned about the escalating levels of overweight and obesity, particularly in children.
The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia - Vic, Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.