18 Oct 2010

McDonald's claims major sugar, fat reductions

8:31 pm on 18 October 2010

A seminar on obesity in Wellington has been told that programmes to promote healthy eating must be simple and consistent as well as culturally appropriate for Maori.

Maori health providers at the seminar say a collective rather than individual focus is needed. Others say employers need to do more to encourage healthy eating and more activity during the working day.

Among those at the seminar was the fast-food chain McDonald's, whose managing director, Mark Hawthorne, says they've cut large amounts of sugar from their food and markedly reduced the saturated-fat content of their cooking oils.

The company says it's often blamed for people being overweight and obese but says it is responding, and believes other fast-food retailers will also have to do more.

McDonald's says it has reduced the amount of sugar in the buns it sells in New Zealand by 40% over the past five years.

Mr Hawthorne says it has also sold 180,000 WeightWatchers meals under a deal with Weightwatchers and wants that figure to rise to 10% of all meals.

He says the chain serves 1.3 million people a week in New Zealand and expects to play a leadership role over obesity.