Fast food is much to di­gest

Joondalup Weekender - - Opinion -

WHAT should be done about stu­dent ac­cess to fast food dur­ing the day?

A high school can­teen was closed be­cause it was not seen as fi­nan­cially vi­able. That re­sulted in chil­dren ac­cess­ing fast-food out­lets dur­ing lunchtime.

The sit­u­a­tion was in­evitable with no al­ter­na­tive food avail­able for those who opt to buy their lunch.

There are nu­mer­ous health, be­havioural and education ben­e­fits of a well­run school can­teen. There­fore, such can­teens should not be viewed solely as a busi­ness propo­si­tion.

Over-con­sump­tion of fast food has im­pli­ca­tions for long-term health out­comes such as heart dis­ease, over­weight and obe­sity.

Fast foods are con­stantly pro­moted and ad­ver­tised to young peo­ple, and are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble 24/7 and be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter school. The power of pro­mo­tion and prod­uct place­ment can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

The prob­lem is not one of oc­ca­sional use of such fast-food restau­rants but the fact that for many young peo­ple it is a daily oc­cur­rence.

Young peo­ple see both fast food and the at­ten­dance at an out­let as part of the process of grow­ing up and at­tain­ing free­dom.

So spend­ing your money on food that your par­ents, teach­ers and oth­ers in au­thor­ity see as un­healthy can be viewed as an act of re­bel­lion. Fast-food restau­rants are a space where young peo­ple can “hang out” free from parental and other in­flu­ences.

There is an as­sump­tion among young peo­ple that pro­hib­ited food is bet­ter tast­ing, an as­sump­tion not borne out in blind taste tests.

When with their peers, choos­ing healthy food may be seen as mak­ing the “wrong” so­cial food choice, ex­pos­ing them to ridicule and os­tracism.

Clearly, pub­lic health regulation is needed to ad­dress mar­ket­ing of fast food, lo­ca­tion of and new open­ings of fast-food restau­rants to cre­ate “no fry” zones around schools.

At the same time, schools should en­sure their can­teens of­fer food that is af­ford­able, healthy and at­trac­tive to stu­dents.

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