McDonald’s fans Robert (left) and Gary Levelle grab a bite to eat. Photo: David Nielsen
McDonald’s fans Robert (left) and Gary Levelle grab a bite to eat. Photo: David Nielsen

Nutritionists call for more info

IPSWICH health professionals are calling on fast food companies to come clean with more information about what is really in their products.

The call comes amidst a QT investigation that has revealed the Ipswich area has 50% more McDonald's restaurants per person than the national average.

There are 830 McDonald's restaurants in Australia, an average of one for every 27, 205 residents. Australia's population is approximately 22,580, 451.

In the Ipswich City Council area, there are nine McDonald's restaurants, an average of one for every 18,888 residents. Ipswich Shire Council has a population of approximately 170,000.

McDonald's Australia's corporate communication manager Laura Keith said the reason for the high number of restaurants in the region was “because Ipswich is a high growth area in Queensland.”

Last year a Queensland Health statewide survey of almost 7000 people, including 600 in the Ipswich area, found that 62.4% of people in Ipswich admitted to being overweight or obese.

That was second only to Mt Isa on 62.5%. Queensland's average was 55.3%.

A combination of factors including inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption and poor dietary habits was to blame. Fast food is often high in calories and fats.

Ipswich and West Moreton Division of General Practice chairperson Dr Lisa Moreton said health professionals wanted “more information about the fat and calorie content of fast foods to be more easily available to people to help them make better choices.”

“Education and the provision of information to people are really important. If they are not aware that they are having two-thirds of their dietary intake in one meal then it is easy to exceed their recommended daily input.

“Even when companies do say what their products contain, it is not presented in a very clear way. More work can be done to present information about what these meals contain so people realise that these foods should be eaten only rarely.”

Ms Keith countered that McDonald's was “the first Quick Service Restaurant in Australia to introduce nutrition labelling on our packaging.”

“Online fact sheets address specific dietary needs is available on our website. We are committed to providing ... healthier options like our Heart Foundation Tick Approved menu items and salads.”

McDonald's food is popular with consumers because they like the taste and it is cheap. The QT discovered that when we visited a local restaurant.

Pine Mountain's Gina White was enjoying an iced hazelnut latte when we spoke to her.

“I come to Maccas for coffee, and more coffee,” she said.

“I've heard that it is not necessarily the best for you and you've got to make good choices. Sometimes, as someone who watches their weight, I try and get a wrap.”

Hatton Vale's Gary Levelle wouldn't eat McDonald's every day but admitted it was “quick and easy”.

“I like the cheeseburgers. They are cheap.

“If I ate it every day I'd be worried about what it did to me, but we only have it every few weeks.”

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