Fast food is not compulsory

February 7th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jessica Tasman-Jones reports at Stuff:

Health authorities are calling on the council to stop the spread of fast food outlets in some of Auckland’s poorest suburbs in an effort to fight .

According to the Auckland Regional Public Heath Service (ARPHS), there are more fast food outlets and less grocers and supermarkets in poor neighbourhoods.

The opposite is true for Auckland’s more affluent suburbs.

According to the ARPHS submission to the draft Auckland Plan, around 70 per cent of the city’s homes are within 1km of a takeaway shop.

That climbs to at least 90 per cent in wards like Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu.

ARPHS says it wants to see council restrict new fast food outlets across Auckland while seeking ways to increase food outlets with healthy food like supermarkets and grocers.

Those evil fish and chip shops, chinese takeaways, subways, hell pizza outlets etc must be stopped. We must not allow people to choose for themselves what food to eat, and suffer the consequences of bad choices.

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47 Responses to “Fast food is not compulsory”

  1. Mark (496 comments) says:

    Or is it more likely due to the cost of land in wards like Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu, compared to Auckland’s more affluent suburbs.

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  2. swan (665 comments) says:

    I think they would need to look at the CBD first. Think of all the access to fast food someone living in a CBD apartment has. They must all be obese! Funny that I haven’t noticed this obesity epidemic walking down Queen St though?

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  3. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Ummm… reducing the number of fast food outlets in South Auckland will:

    1. Lead to increased business for existing shops.
    2. Increase transaction costs for the consumer, i.e. waiting times, extra travel.
    3. Reduce competition, leading to lower consumer satisfaction.
    4. Make home delivery from outside the area a more appealing option.

    Reducing the number of fast food outlets in South Auckland will NOT:

    1. Cause consumption of fresh fruit and veges to increase.
    2. Have any effect on obesity.

    Poor people aren’t fat because there are more fast foods shops around them. There are more fast food shops in poor areas because the people there are fat.

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  4. Nick R (508 comments) says:

    I have some sympathy for the health authorities here. They are stuck with the cost of managing obesity-related health problems. They always have limited resources, so treating avoidable obesity-related conditions inevitably means there are fewer resources for other conditions. So from their perspective, anything that reduces obesity is good because it frees up scarce health resources for other things, as well as improving overall public health.

    The other problem is that letting people take responsibility for their own choices is exactly where we are now. It’s not working very well because, in a socialised healthcare system, the consequences of those choices is not purely private – the cost of illness and disability due to obesity falls on the taxpayer.

    So the challenge is what to do about that. I suspect there are few really good answers – simply providing more education doesn’t seem to be effective, but imposing rules on what food can be sold is also very unappealing. We could make obese people pay for their own health care etc by excluding them from the public health system, but that then becomes a precedent. Why stop at the obese? What about smokers, drug users or alcoholics?

    Tricky stuff

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  5. RRM (10,009 comments) says:

    What are “health ****s”?

    [DPF: A polite term for people who wear brown shirts]

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  6. Longknives (4,868 comments) says:

    This article has certainly got me thinking- I reckon I might have a greasy burger for lunch…

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  7. Tautaioleua (313 comments) says:

    There are also more liquor outlets in South Auckland, is that simply because there are more alcoholics here?

    Have you ever heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” – it’s centre stage in these discussions.

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  8. redqueen (582 comments) says:

    In retaliation, maybe we should organise a National Fastfood Day? Everyone to the chippy!!!

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  9. swan (665 comments) says:

    Nick R,

    Smokers already overpay, Drinkers pay about the right amount, and it would be easy to get drug users to pay if drugs were regulated and taxed.

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  10. Elaycee (4,404 comments) says:

    “ARPHS says it wants to see council restrict new fast food outlets across Auckland….”

    Its like saying that there should be no sales of ‘fast’ cars in some areas – because speed apparently kills.

    Pfftt….

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  11. Graeme Edgeler (3,290 comments) says:

    We must not allow people to choose for themselves what food to eat, and suffer the consequences of bad choices.

    What about the external costs of those choices? The higher taxes on others to pay for the health costs, the delays in getting, for example, cancer treatment because of stretched health dollars, etc.?

    If we have a public health system, and if that public health system is substantially taxpayer-funded, then: 1. should the costs be apportioned through fairer means (e.g. fat taxes on fast food); 2. should other taxpayers be collectively permitted to act in ways to limit the costs imposed upon them (e.g. by limiting access to health threatening foods)?

    I’m not saying I support these things in any way, but you position seems to ignore that you have lost the prior argument (i.e. whether we should have public health system and whether that should cover the costs of obesity). Given that we have a public system, and that it funds obesity-related healthcare, does that change your view about what we should be able to do (and if not, why not?) Because at present you are implicitly arguing: we shouldn’t have a public health system that covers obesity-related costs,* but that if we do, then we shouldn’t have a means of limiting our financial costs.

    * assumption on my part. If you do support a public health system that covers obesity-related costs, a similar question would still apply.

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  12. Put it away (2,880 comments) says:

    Kimble hits the nail on the head.

    ( posted via maccas free wifi while eating a mac combo, nowhere near where I live.)

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  13. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    “Citizens are calling on the council to stop the spread of health authorities in some of Auckland’s poorest suburbs in an effort to fight complete idiocy.”

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  14. Bob R (1,391 comments) says:

    ***We must not allow people to choose for themselves what food to eat, and suffer the consequences of bad choices.***

    This would be fine if everyone had some degree of future time orientation and above average IQ. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

    The result is that others end up having to pay taxes to deal with the health problems of people who are _incapable_ of making sensible eating choices.

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  15. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    What about the external costs of those choices? The higher taxes on others to pay for the health costs, the delays in getting, for example, cancer treatment because of stretched health dollars, etc.?

    What about them?

    Fast food is not a major driver of obesity. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles is.

    Obesity is not a major driver of health costs. Morbid obesity is, but very few in New Zealand are morbidly obese. Obesity hardly affects either longevity or health costs.

    Anyway, the argument that having created a fiscal externality by free unlimited health care we must regulate everything that adds to its costs is faulty. The problem is the creation of free unlimited health care.

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  16. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    The result is that others end up having to pay taxes to deal with the health problems of people who are _incapable_ of making sensible eating choices.

    Nonsense. And nonsense.

    Of course people are capable of making choices.

    And almost no taxes are spent on the problems created by obesity. Far far more taxes are spent on programs created by bureaucrats trying to shame the obese into behaving the way these latte liberals would prefer. The efficient solution is to stop the bureaucrats.

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  17. Mark (496 comments) says:

    People who buy fast food are already paying 15% tax on what they buy.

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  18. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    By the way, expect the McDonalds, Burger King, etc, franchise owners already in those suburbs to be right behind these proposals. Nobody likes competition and the main effect of barring new competition will be to hand monopoly rents over to these franchisees. That’s money coming out of the pockets of the people the people these gormless, economically illiterate faceless bureaucrats pretend to be trying to help.

    Standard bootleggers and baptists.

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  19. Manolo (14,044 comments) says:

    Long live Darwin.

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  20. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Poor people aren’t fat because there are more fast foods shops around them. There are more fast food shops in poor areas because the people there are fat.

    Or another way. Poor people aren’t fat because there are more fast foods shops around them. Poor people are fat cause the are too dumb to realise their eating habits detrimental to their health & frankly too lazy to get off their arses and go to the supermarket and then cook a healthy dinner. Shit I wonder how often they get off their arses and go for a walk? Seriously, if these people had even a small amount of intelligence, they probably wouldn’t be working menial jobs for minimum wage.

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  21. swan (665 comments) says:

    Graeme,

    Agree with 1. but not 2. A public health system shouldn’t be used as a reason to restrict individual choice. If we accept a public health system, we must accept the costs of others actions. Otherwise where foes the slippery slope end? Licences to own a ladder? Banning mountain biking?

    On 1. With obesity costs, the tax should fall on the person not the product because no individual product could ever be causally linked to obesity. Eating a mc donalds burger doesn’t make you fat.

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  22. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    There are also more liquor outlets in South Auckland, is that simply because there are more alcoholics here?

    Ummm, yes? To be more accurate, I dont think there are more alcoholics, but there may be more casual drinkers, more group celebrations, more sports events, when alcohol is consumed it is consumed in greater quantities… All adding up to more alcohol bought and sold.

    How many liquor stores are there in Tehran? Why?

    Have you ever heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” – it’s centre stage in these discussions.

    If you want a cliché duel, have you ever heard the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder”?

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  23. fatnuts (160 comments) says:

    When does the cost to the taxpayer become the issue?

    The only proven means of reducing use (smoking, drinking etc) is through increased tax.

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  24. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    I cant let you co-opt my point, Bevan.

    Poor people are fat cause the are too dumb to realise their eating habits detrimental to their health

    Hardly. The link between bad food and weight gain is too well known for people to be ignorant of it. The issue is best approached from the assumption that the link is known, but not given a large weight in peoples decision-making. Why would that be?

    To be clear. The argument that people are too stupid to know what bad food is and what it does, is a greater justification for intervention than anything quoted by DPF above. I am against this sort of intervention because I dont think people are “too stupid to understand”.

    & frankly ltoo lazy to get off their arses and go to the supermarket and then cook a healthy dinner.

    Fast food is easier. Why is that important?

    Seriously, if these people had even a small amount of intelligence, they probably wouldn’t be working menial jobs for minimum wage.

    I dont think you know many people earning the minimum wage. Not everyone in South Auckland is on the minimum wage. Only a small fraction would be. Many ‘patriarchs’ I know are paid over $100k including overtime.

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  25. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    The only proven means of reducing use (smoking, drinking etc) is through increased tax.

    [citation needed]

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  26. freemark (615 comments) says:

    On a brighter note, often the grossly overweight become unable to breed.

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  27. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Hardly. The link between bad food and weight gain is too well known for people to be ignorant of it. The issue is best approached from the assumption that the link is known, but not given a large weight in peoples decision-making. Why would that be?

    What? You are basically agreeing with me. If it is too well known for people to be ignorant of it, they must either not give a shit or they are too fucking dumb and/or lazy to change their habits.

    To be clear. The argument that people are too stupid to know what bad food is and what it does, is a greater justification for intervention than anything quoted by DPF above. I am against this sort of intervention because I dont think people are “too stupid to understand”.

    Thats not my point, you’ve missed it by a country mile.

    Fast food is easier. Why is that important?

    Yes, I’ll repeat: They are too damn lazy so they are going for the easy option.

    I dont think you know many people earning the minimum wage. Not everyone in South Auckland is on the minimum wage. Only a small fraction would be. Many ‘patriarchs’ I know are paid over $100k including overtime.

    What a meaningless response to make.

    My post was not intended to provide justification for intervention – how you took it that way is beyond me.

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  28. fatnuts (160 comments) says:

    Kimble – just an opinion, albiet badly worded.

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  29. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    Anyone who thinks fast food patrons are not aware of its health effects appear to be quite wrong. A study found in a controlled experiment that when calorie counts of fast food were posted, patrons tended to shift consumption away from healthy choices and towards unhealthy, the interpretation being that without information patrons assumed the fried food was less healthy than it actually is.

    Same deal with smoking, by the way: smokers assume smoking is more dangerous than it actually is.

    Same deal with drinking, too: drinkers over-estimate the dangers of alcoholism from their drinking.

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  30. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    What? You are basically agreeing with me. If it is too well known for people to be ignorant of it, they must either not give a shit or they are too fucking dumb and/or lazy to change their habits.

    I am not agreeing with you. I do not think the obesity problem in these communities is due to their lower intelligence.

    Thats not my point, you’ve missed it by a country mile.

    Its not the point you wanted to make, but it is a fair one to infer from the assertion that “people are too stupid to eat right”.

    Yes, I’ll repeat: They are too damn lazy so they are going for the easy option.

    The question is why are people engaging in the behaviour you disagree with. Saying they are bad people (too stupid, or too lazy) is a cop out. You cant simply wave your hands and explain away an observed preference by labelling it irrational.

    You must ask, why is this rational behaviour for those people to act that way?

    My post was not intended to provide justification for intervention

    Claiming someone is too stupid to make good decisions is a strong justification for intervention. After all, its why we dont allow kids to make their own decisions on their own diet, right?

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  31. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Kimble – just an opinion, albiet badly worded.

    For future reference, the word you wanted to avoid was “proven”.

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  32. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Kimble – what makes you think that people in “these communities” are any dumber than the rest of the population? They might just have different values to yours.

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  33. DavidC (179 comments) says:

    I say put a state subsidised KFC on every corner and sprinkle the chips with crushed contraceptive pills!

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  34. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Claiming someone is too stupid to make good decisions is a strong justification for intervention. After all, its why we dont allow kids to make their own decisions on their own diet, right?

    Your inner knee jerk is showing.

    My point is they are too damn dumb so what is the point of trying to undertake ANY intervention? They are too lazy to cook for themselves, they will always go in search of the easy fast food option. Like you said, the health impact of eating junk food all the time is very well known – so ask why do they do it? Cause they are dumb! Intervention will achieve fuck all except provide a bunch of public sector gravy positions & government funding for a few gravy chains. Why the hell should we put in place safety nets for these idiots if they are either too dumb or just dont want to help themselves in the first place?

    See, look how you missed my point. I dont want to help these dumb idiots because they are too dumb to help themselves.

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  35. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    I say put a state subsidised KFC on every corner and sprinkle the chips with crushed contraceptive pills!

    Now that is intervention I would agree with.

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  36. Scott Chris (6,176 comments) says:

    Kimble’s right. All these measures would simply lead to is imbalances in the market place with little or no impact on people’s average fat intake.

    Only way to disincentivize unhealthy habits is to somehow make people accountable for their lifestyle related health costs.
    I don’t see health insurance being privatized any time soon, so the only viable option is a sugar and fat tax. The more you consume, the more you pay.

    Of course, that would mean the price of most milk products would go up as well as butter and cheese, so I doubt any government would have the balls to implement such a tax.

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  37. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I am too lazy to cook some (many) days. I do eat a bit of takeaway food, and I also understand the health risks. That is up to me.
    I don’t think anyone would say I am of below average intelligence. I have high income and a university degree (not that either are necessarily an indicator of intelligence) – I’m not in Kimble’s stereotypical dumb person demographic. I only have myself to feed so I don’t bother cooking every night (but I do some nights). I don’t see a problem here.

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  38. Ed Snack (1,926 comments) says:

    Jesus, they’re all so keen on stopping people doing this or that, how the hell can allow all these morons to VOTE ! Or to have children, or spend their own money…

    Graham E, there’s also the external costs of applying all the taxes onto people who don’t eat to excess or get fat but will have the pay the tax anyway. That would be a huge “external cost” that needs to be factored in. Do we get “fat rebates” in this system ?

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  39. Fletch (6,489 comments) says:

    Our lifestyles probably have quite a bit to do with it as well.

    I saw a TV programme the other day, “The Supersizers Go… Seventies” (the premise of the show is that every episode the couple of presenters have to eat foods from a certain era in history for a week. They even dress in clothes from the era).

    This particular show, they had to eat food from the 70s, including the ‘new’ instant foods, such as pudding made from powder and snap frozen meals. A doctor they consulted for the show said that although the foods at the time were bad, people led more active lifestyles (skateboarding etc), which were able to offset the health effects.

    Today, though, people spend more time in front of computers, surfing the internet, or playing video games on their Playstations etc. . Those things weren’t available in the 1970s, or indeed, earlier times in history.

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  40. Simon Lyall (60 comments) says:

    Going off the information in the article it can be spun the other way:

    In poor areas there are shops (including takeaways) with 1km of 90% of homes therefore people can walk to the shops. However in rich areas 30% of homes are more than 1km from a takeaway shop therefore people are force to drive everywhere and don’t get any exercise.

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  41. Pete George (23,682 comments) says:

    @Fletch Our lifestyles probably have quite a bit to do with it as well.

    I saw something recently (can’t remember where) that said our poor diets aren’t the problem, we’ve gone from eating too much home baked sugar and fat drenched fried and roast food to too much bought sugar and oil drenched food.

    As Fletch says the big change is in our lifestyles, most of us are far less active than we were, due to much less labour intensive work, and much more bum based home entertainment.

    We should allow fast food outlets – and bakeries and supermarkets and bottle stores as the contribute at least as much to obese habits – but maybe they should have to be at least a km from any car park so we have compulsory exercise if we want dietary indulgement.

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  42. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Pete – people will just park illegally.

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  43. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    Of course they could be forced to stay home and eat lots of white bread, marge, tinned spag and crisps.
    I remember Mum’s enormous fat-laden roast dinners, tins full of baking, bread and scones, and always pudding, if only preserved fruit and icecream. But the ingredients were wholesome and we didn’t even know the word ‘snacks’. There was no eating between meals and very little readymade food. And we rode our bikes or walked. But cycle helmets put the kibosh on cycling for most kids and schools ripped out hundreds of unused bike stands.
    I also blame the food police of the 70’s who urged people to eat rice and pasta and other starchy carbohydrates instead of meat and veg.
    And I expect taxing fast food will lead straight to more child poverty, just as the astronomical cost of cigarettes has.

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  44. Brian Smaller (4,024 comments) says:

    @Fletch – on that show Supersizers go 70s, the nutritionist said that in the 70s people consumed up to 700 calories a day more than the average in the UK does now. It was all about the level of activity. Simple. Calories in > Calories out = Fat.

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  45. Bob R (1,391 comments) says:

    ***Of course people are capable of making choices. ***

    @ ben,

    Everyday evidence suggests otherwise. Pop down to your local District Court sometime. There are a lot of stupid people who lead dysfunctional lives. Don’t get me started on the number of people who drink alcohol during pregnancy.

    ***And almost no taxes are spent on the problems created by obesity.***

    The health care costs are significant. Consider this study on “Health care costs of obesity in New Zealand” from 1997:

    “RESULTS: A conservative estimate of the health care costs attributable to obesity for the six conditions was NZ$135 million. This represents about 2.5% of total health care costs which is similar to analyses from other countries.

    CONCLUSIONS: The health care costs of obesity as estimated are considerable. However, the total cost of overfatness to the New Zealand population is far greater than this because lesser degrees of overfatness, the health care costs of other obesity-related conditions such as arthritis, the costs to individuals of weight-loss programs and the indirect and intangible costs were not included in the analysis. A substantial and wide-ranging public health effort is needed to turn around the increasing prevalence and costs of obesity.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9347407

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  46. Viking2 (11,561 comments) says:

    Yes it is. I’m fucked if I want to wait all night for tea when I get home.

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  47. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    The obesity problem is easy to solve. Privatize the healthcare system. We will see people start looking after of what they eat and also buying their own health insurances.

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