DOMINO’S Pizza scored 3/100 in a report ranking retailers on their public positions on tackling obesity – from the promotion of fast food to children, to creating healthier options.
The pizza chain was the lowest ranked of the 11 companies included in the study released by Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre today.
Domino’s scored 0/100 for five of the six categories, including having no strategic document outlining a commitment to nutrition and health, no commitment to reducing trans-fats and sugars from food, and no policy to reduce fast food exposure to children.
Subway had the highest average score, followed by McDonald’s, KFC and Nando’s.
Domino’s will soon open a third outlet in Bendigo – at Strath Village – a seven-minute drive from its outlet on High Street, Bendigo.
It will be the city’s third Domino’s.
Councils have minimal power to stop fast food outlets from opening, and landowners have almost complete discretion in the businesses that they lease to.
The report found the majority of the restaurants do not identify nutrition and health as being a focus area, with a sector-wide failure by “quick service restaurants” to disclose what they are doing to address obesity and nutrition.
Subway and Nando’s both offered further information to researchers, while other companies declined.
The report’s lead author Associate Professor Gary Sacks said Australians spend about 32 per cent of their food budget on takeaways and eating out, which means the fast food industry has a big impact on our diets.
“Unhealthy diets are creating a public health crisis in Australia,” Dr Sacks said.
Dr Sacks said there needed to be an emphasis on making healthy options easy and cheap, and not on offering deals for products that were full of sugar.
“The majority of items we see heavily promoted are unhealthy ones, like $1 frozen cokes,” Dr Sacks said.
The report – the third in a series that has previously ranked supermarkets and food manufacturers – found all of the restaurants had provided comprehensive nutrition information online, but all needed to improve their disclosure and transparency on their policies for healthier eating.
“There’s a real opportunity for fast food companies to help address the problem by introducing policies that make healthier choices, like water and fruit or salad, the automatic option for kids’ meals.”
Further studies by the university will examine “the performance of companies”, including if they comply with the nutrition commitments they have made.
Inside our Quick Service Restaurants recommended that restaurants prioritise obesity prevention, set measurable targets to reduce saturated fat and sugar, commit to making healthier options the default option, and implement a pricing strategy that puts healthier products at a similar or lower price to “less healthy” equivalents.
It concluded that while some fast food restaurants have taken positive steps to tackle obesity and unhealthy diets, there is a “much greater role for the sector to play”, which should be closely monitored by governments.
Some retailers were unhappy with the study, with burger chain Grill’d saying it was considering legal action after it was scored 10/100 by the “flawed, misleading and deceptive” research.
The restaurant’s founder, Simon Crowe, said he was “furious” his company had been “lumped in with a bunch of fast food outlets” when it had been focused on nutrition since 2004.
“My concern is that the researcher who undertook this work appears not to have thoroughly examined the Grill’d website which clearly states our position on the survey questions,” Mr Crowe said.