Australia second only to Canada in rise in fast food sales
Australia second only to Canada in rise in fast food sales Mike Richards GLA081013BUGR

Plan to tax fast food and promote good farming hits hurdle

A RADICAL idea for dealing with a global obesity epidemic by the World Health Organisation to crack down on fast food and promote farmers' produce is already hitting hurdles here despite Australia's increasing waistlines.

In a Monday missive from Geneva, Switzerland, WHO backed findings by American and Irish researchers, which called for financial incentives for farmers to "sell health foods and fresh food items" and sanctions on "ultra-processed" or fast foods and soft drinks through a tax.

Of the 25 countries considered by researchers, Australia had the sharpest rise in fast-food sales second only to Canada.

In these westernised nations, people have been eating an average of 3430 calories a day despite men and women needing no more than 2500 per day.

Farming groups and the peak body for fast-food outlets are opposing the recommendations.

A spokesman for the Queensland Farmers Federation said it would be "unusual, unwelcome and unlikely" for any government policy to determine how farmers sell their produce.

A spokesman for the Australian Grocery and Food Council - the lobby group for fast-food outlets - did not discuss the WHO report directly, but said plenty was already being done by the industry to improve health habits.

He said the industry was trying to reduce fat, energy and salt while increasing fibre, wholegrain, fruit and vegetables in "commonly eaten foods".

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