Tagged: obesity

Plain packaging for fast food? The global obesity crisis

Plain packets for fast food

What if we decided that fast food should be plain packaged with graphic health warnings like cigarette package now is  in Australia? A Fast Food Plain Packaging Act?

Some of the reasons we now force the plain packaging of cigarettes:

  • to make them less attractive to  adults and children
  • to ensure that advertising is not misleading and that there is no confusion about the health implications for consumers
  • to provide health warning on the packaging
  • to amplify the health warnings

Exactly the same messages could be echoed for fast food. I am thinking of especially the large companies who mass produce fast foods…. you know who they are…. they are dominated by bright attractive colours in their ‘restaurants’, and on their packaging…they include ‘nutritional facts’ on their labels (that you need a magnifying glass to read). They have cheap options to lure the cash poor….and they have meal deals and family meal deals which include fizzy sugary drinks to the mostly fried mix!

It is not rocket science   – this stuff…hard to refer to it as food! This stuff is really, really bad for people to consume. It directly causes BAD health.  There is a clear and obvious cause and effect….. if you eat a lot of fast food + sugary drinks you will get fat, have cardiac disease, diabetes, diminished mental health… the list goes on…. other blog posts of mine have discussed food security and the excess of poor quality food…

Fast food is addictive – our brains crave the saturated and transfats, and the more we have…the more we crave. It is fact.

Can we provide conditions that change the environment, help our brains and the brains of our children and young people to be less attracted to fast food? Would plain packaging and plain signage restrictions make a difference? I.m not sure that the evidence is out there to say it would help…. but in terms of health, I can’t see that it would do any harm to try!

Here is some more food for thought … a compilation of conversations that made me think more about this issue over the last few days…

fat map…

Could this map explain in part world obesity….The global obesity crisis. A few big companies that produce of lot of processed foods high in fats and sugars? What would happen if we stopped buying this stuff? Would it matter to health? and how would that shape society? What items should/could be plain packaged? Are there incentives that could be in place to promote fun and enticing packaging of low processed foods?


I watched  ABC TV show  Four Corners  Supersizing India’s kids  the other night…. As a health professional, I found it profoundly disturbing on so many levels…. watch for yourself! Kid’s obese… vulnerable…. surgery (and the health industry) exploiting them with expensive and invasive interventions (gastric bands and worse), without using other less invasive interventions first. Kid’s undergoing major gastric surgery… that can only end badly. Where are the nurses??? Why are they not taking some leadership in promoting health, reducing poor health….. ????  Why are they not advocating for safe health promotion and interventions for these kids…. ??? (AND – a big thumbs down to the surgeon who slapped the abdomen of a child while he was under anesthetic…. BIG thumbs down. Where was the nurse then????)

closer to home…

Kind of in my back yard…. a few blocks from where I live, an 18 year old young woman died from obesity in the last year. Devastating… so sad. So preventable… but help was needed. A few blocks from were I live major fast food ‘restaurants’ thrive… cars cue to ‘drive through’… so sad. The smell of the oils bubbling away saturate the air to those who walk by… enticing  the brains of young people with their neurochemical lures… Here in rural Australia, where we grow fresh food, produce it for the nation and the world, where idyllically healthy living can be had in bucket loads…. we have our own fast food crisis. Where are the nurses? …advocating for health?

it all makes me think….

What can be done… to reduce the fast food led health demise in my town, in my country… in my world?

Perhaps every little bit might help and is worth trying…. why not plain packaging for fast food ? I am a nurse – it is in my professional DNA to advocate for health, especially for vulnerable people  such as kids and young people, who sometimes can’t yet do that for themselves. I live in rural Australia…. it sharpens my mind to the needs of rural young people…. and to also advocate for their health.

We need fitter bodies and sharper minds in rural communities – we need less enticement to consume fast food which reduces physical and mental health. I say –  Keep the packaging plain. Add health warnings to the packages, and include photos of horrendous consequences of prolonged consumption. Just like we do for cigarettes – see what happens…

Too controversial? or, on the money? Debate welcome!