McDonald's, KFC face supersize fees in obesity fight - New York News

McDonald's, KFC face supersize fees in obesity fight

MELBOURNE, Australia -

Fast food giants such as McDonald's and KFC face big fat rate increases in a new attack on the obesity crisis in Australia.

A council in Melbourne will consider hitting major fast food outlets up to 400 percent more on their rates in a move backed by dieticians and health groups.

Darebin Council's move could be followed by other councils concerned about the spread of junk food chains despite warnings about illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

"Councils have the responsibility of looking after the health and well-being of their community," Darebin councilor Gaetano Greco said. "Here we are, looking at an extra tool that council can use to limit or control the spread of fast-food chain outlets."

Councillors voted to explore the option as part of a wider campaign against Type 2 diabetes after they were told that using planning controls against the outlets would not work.  Extra money from rate increases will be poured into health promotion programs.

Leading dietitian Rosemary Stanton was among those welcoming the idea.

"There's nothing wrong with anyone eating anything occasionally, but when these foods become extremely cheap, they're eaten too often," she said. "So anything we can do to cut down on consumption is a good thing."

But Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said Darebin's move was laughable -- the sort of policy that gave local government a bad name.

A McDonald's spokeswoman said that similar to owners of local fish and chip shops, Thai and pizza stores, more than 70 percent of McDonald's restaurants were owned and operated by local people.

"If higher rates are introduced, we believe that they should be made fair across the board and should not penalize particular companies or foods," she said.

A Herald Sun online poll, asking if fast food outlets should be forced to pay higher rates, showed 75 percent of respondents voted "no" and 25 percent voted "yes."

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