The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) is calling on all states and territories to follow the lead of the New South Wales and Victorian Governments in announcing new laws that require food chain outlets to include kilojoule counts for each item on their menus.
Jane Martin, senior policy adviser for the OPC, said that menu labelling had been effective in helping consumers to choose lower energy products in certain parts of America where the scheme was already in operation.
"Clearer labelling on menus at fast food outlets will help consumers sort the fat from the fiction at a glance. We know this has proven effective overseas. Giving consumers information about the amount of kilojoules in a menu item empowers them to make lower energy choices. This is particularly important when you consider that within five years one-third of Australians will be obese.
“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 have some of the highest levels of energy,” she said.
The OPC said the NSW Government’s commitment on menu labelling, announced yesterday, was a positive step following the Victorian Government’s similar announcement earlier this year; however, it would like to see menu labelling implemented nationally to benefit all Australians.
“We hope the Blewett labelling review will provide further impetus for a national approach to menu labelling,” said Ms Martin.
Ms Martin said consumers would also benefit from further nutritional information on menus such as sugar, salt and saturated fat, and the use of traffic light colours to indicate the levels of these nutrients.