Ministerial confusion as Britain heads fast-food guzzler league
Squall Download 1, Oct/Nov 1999, pg. 9.
British people now eat more fast food than anyone else in Europe, according to a recent survey conducted by market analysts Mintel.
Annual UK consumption of burgers and pizzas amounts to £2.7 billion says the report; topping the Germans on £2 billion, the French on £1.6 billion, the Spanish on £700 million and the restrained Italians on £310 million. More alarming still for the sclerotic British aorta is the fact that these figures do not include fish and chips.
In April, the Department of Health responded to rising obesity levels in the UK by announcing a new taxpayer-funded Healthy Schools Programme designed to encourage school children to have higher nutritional standards. However, government ministers are seemingly confused about whether to encourage or discourage fast-food use in children. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers and new Labour MP, Hilary Benn, became the latest political endorsees of fast food when they appeared before press cameras in June, serving McDonald’s happy meals to customers in Leeds. Their fast food endorsements followed similar media stunts by Tony Blair (Coventry McDonald’s), Margaret Thatcher and Michael Portillo (London McDonald's).
As Lord Justice Pill said whilst issuing his verdict on the McLibel appeal case in May: “It was true to say that McDonald’s exploit children by using them as more susceptible subjects of advertising to pressurise their parents into going to McDonald's…. If one eats enough McDonald’s food, one’s diet may well become high in fat with the very real risk of heart disease.”
McDonald's have an exclusive marketing association with Walt Disney which helps capture the loyalty of children. Both McDonald’s and Burger King have announced they plan to open 200 new burger bars in the UK within the next two years.
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