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McDonald’s, KFC stores face major restrictions under Aussie state’s new plan

Worrying hospital trends have led WA Health to push for tougher restrictions on fast-food outlets and more accessibility to healthier options, especially for school students.

The recent report found Perth is dominated by fast-food stores, particularly in lower socioeconomic areas, and in order for that to change, they need to have opening hour restrictions near schools.

On top of that, local government should also be able to decide whether new fast-food stores open in the area, which the current planning laws don't allow them to do.

Currently, Perth schools have an average of 1.8 fast food outlets within 400 metres, almost six within 800 metres and eight within 1km. All are open before and/or after school hours.

One photo of a McDonald's store and another of a KFC store.
A WA Health report has sparked concerns about the link between obesity and proximity to fast-food chains like McDonald's and KFC. Source: Google Maps (Google Maps)

Cancer prevention and research Director at Cancer Council, Melissa Ledger, said the link between the stores and schools makes students "more likely to purchase those foods".

“Being close to a junk food outlet, especially for secondary school students or our young people, really influences their attitudes,” Ms Ledger told 7 News.

An increase in how many secondary students buy from chains such as KFC, Subway, McDonald's and Dominos also strongly dictates why more fast-food stores are being built closer to schools.

“We really urgently need help from the government to make a change to planning laws so local government are supported to make decisions based on community health rather than the profits of the fast-food industry," Ms Ledger said.

Less 'food deserts', more supermarkets and healthy outlets

One of the suggestions in the draft plan by WA Health was to co-locate healthy food outlets with other key destinations such as where people study, work, live and relax.

So the report proposed more nutritious food stores and supermarkets that are walking distance from where people live and near public transport, walking and cycling routes.

The plan set out in the report aims to address hospitalisation costs linked to overweight and obesity in WA, which at this rate are set to rise by 80 per cent to $610 million by 2026.

A key aspect that remains unaddressed in the report however, is how a healthy diet can be achieved for those who cannot afford it, and what the government should do about that.

"With more and more being unable to afford food this is irrelevant and useless," one person suggested on Twitter.

Yahoo News Australia has reached out to the City of Perth Council and WA Health.

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