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Obesity experts want food chains to serve salad and water to kids in place of fizzy drinks and fries

KAREN COLLIER, May 29, 2018 7:31AM Herald Sun

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George, 8, and Poppy, 6, feast on fast food and healthy sides and water. Picture: Sarah Matray media_cameraGeorge, 8, and Poppy, 6, feast on fast food and healthy sides and water. Picture: Sarah Matray


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Fast food should be served with water and salad or fruit unless customers ask otherwise*.

And making healthy food cheaper than chips and sugary drinks would help people make better choices, according to a review of fast food by obesity* researchers.

“All meal deals should have water and a healthy side as the default* option — particularly for kids,” Deakin University’s Associate Professor Gary Sacks said.

He called on all fast food companies to offer salad or fresh fruit as an alternative to fries, and water rather than juice or soft drink.

Deakin’s Global Obesity Centre studied nutrition* and obesity-prevention* programs of major fast food chains.

Prof Sacks said while some chains had added healthier choices such as salad and grilled wraps, these were usually more expensive.

“Most heavily promoted* items are unhealthy, like $1 frozen Cokes or two-for-one burgers.”

Liam, 10, with his fast food burger, chips and soft drink. Picture: News Limited media_cameraLiam, 10, with his fast food burger, chips and soft drink. Picture: News Limited

Deakin’s report also suggests:

HEALTH stars or colour codes included on menu boards.

ADVERTISING and sponsorship* restrictions to reduce children’s exposure* to unhealthy food.

FEWER discounts and value deals for unhealthy options.

SET targets to reduce salt, sugar, some types of fat, energy content and meal sizes.

BANS on toy, cartoon character and game promotions.

Another study showed children eat more junk food when they see junk-food advertising

The study of 11 chains scored each out of 100. Subway scored best overall at 48 out of 100. It has both a healthy drink and side default for all kids’ meals, and its food no longer includes artificially produced trans fat*.

McDonald’s (42) and KFC (41) followed. Domino’s Pizza (3) was ranked lowest.

Domino’s said it had detailed nutritional information online and in stores. It already met or exceeded* a number of recommendations*, including not marketing to children, and nationwide kilojoule* menu board labelling.

The study advises salad and water instead of fries and soft drink. media_cameraThe study advises salad and water instead of fries and soft drink.

In the US last year, the Californian city of Berkeley made it compulsory for children’s fast-food meals to be served with water or milk rather than sugary drinks. Customers who want sugary drinks must make an extra purchase. Three other Californian cities — Davis, Stockton and Perris — have a healthy-first drinks rule but in these cities those who want sugary drinks instead can ask to swap their healthy drinks.


otherwise: apart from that

obesity: being very overweight

default: automatic

nutrition: nourishment

prevention: stopping something happening

promoted: advertised

sponsorship: pay for something in return for publicity

exposure: being shown

trans fat: a type of man-made fats thought to be very unhealthy

exceeded: gone above

recommendations: advice

kilojoule: energy measurement


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1. Which university made this suggestions?

2. Complete this sentence: Some chains added salad and grilled wraps but these were more …

3. Name two examples of unhealthy options that are heavily promoted.

4. Which five fast food chains are mentioned?

5. What must customers in Berkeley do if they want sugary drinks?


It is much healthier to choose water or milk instead of soft drink or juice, and better to have a salad or fruit instead of fries … but how can we encourage children (or their parents) to make the healthier choice?

Come up with a marketing idea for one of these healthier side or drink options. It could be a celebrity or cartoon character endorsement, a reward for choosing the healthy option, a scare campaign to warn them about the unhealthier options, or any other idea you can think of that you think will be convincing. Present your idea in the form of a poster that could be displayed in a fast food outlet.

Extension: Draw a set of traffic lights and next to the lights draw or write the names of some fast food or drink options. Place the healthiest options next to the green light, the unhealthiest options next to the red light and the choices that you think are just okay next to the orange light. Discuss with a partner where you have placed your options and make a joint decision about any that you disagreed on.

Time: Allow 40 minutes

Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education, Visual Arts, Personal and Social Capability


After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green. Discuss how these are being used, where and how often. What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?


Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.

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