Central Highlands crowned fast food capital of Queensland.
Central Highlands crowned fast food capital of Queensland. Thinkstock

Central Highlands crowned fast food capital of Queensland

THE Central Highlands area has been deemed the fast food capital of Queensland after an analysis of outlet prevalence based on population.

The tourist meccas of the Gold Coast (3rd), Whitsunday (5th) and Cairns (11 place) also are fast food meccas.

Somerset, with two outlets for its 22,000 residents, has the lowest density of fast food restaurants ranking it last in the data relating to 34 council areas.

Heart Foundation Queensland health director Rachelle Foreman said a meal combo at a fast food chain could contain almost all of a person's daily kilojoule requirements.

She said the average Queenslander ate out four times a week, mainly at fast food chains, and it was contributing to the state's obesity epidemic.

"When these fast food outlets are on every second street corner - we have a problem," Ms Foreman said.

The figures, released on Monday, cover 11 major fast food chains in 34 of the state's most populous local government areas.

The survey did not take into account independent fast food outlets such as fish and chip shops or small fast food chains.

Central Highlands had 12 outlets in total, which equated to one outlet for every 2461 people, of whom 63.1% are overweight or obese.

"The food and drinks sold at these outlets are mostly energy dense and nutrient poor - high in kilojoules, saturated fat, trans fat and sugar," Ms Foreman said.

"Almost two-thirds of people in Central Highlands Regional Council are overweight or obese, yet in the town of Blackwater alone there are only two GP clinics and a pharmacy compared to four fast food outlets.

"When it is easier to pull in to the drive-through and load up on junk food as it is to visit a health provider, then we have a problem.

"Emerald and Blackwater are hubs for workers in the resource sector and we are concerned that a lack of healthy options could be contributing to increased rates of overweight and obesity among people working in the sector.

"Fast food restaurants in some local government areas also serve a high proportion of tourists which is also concerning.

"It means in some tourist towns or thoroughfares, your options for a healthy meal may be limited.

"We need to reduce the ready availability of junk food and increase the availability of healthy food options which better support local growers at the same time."

Ms Foreman said all three levels of government, and the community, needed to come together to drive real change.

She said it was time for a tough discussion about brave actions such as taxing sugary drinks, making kilojoule labelling on menus in fast food restaurants mandatory and limiting the spread of fast food outlets through land use planning, including signage regulation.

The major fast food chains used for the analysis were: McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Eagle Boys, Red Rooster, Nandos, Subway, Oporto and Donut King.


APN areas - rank by council area

1: Central Highlands 12 restaurants = 1 per 2461 people (63.1% of adults are overweight or obese)

4: Southern Downs 12 restaurants = 1 per 2885 (59%)

5: Whitsundays 11 restaurants = 1 per 2946 (62.6%)

6: Ipswich 58 restaurants = 1 per 2968 (59.2%)

8: Rockhampton 37 restaurants = 1 per 3037 (65.1%)

13: Gladstone 18 restaurants = 1 per 3300 (65.6%)

17: Western Downs 9 restaurants = 1 per 3595 (62.2%)

19: Mackay 31 restaurants = 1 per 3732 (60.9%)

20: Toowoomba 41 restaurants = 1 per 3779 (63.3%)

22: Sunshine Coast 81 restaurants = 1 per 3912 (53.3%)

25: Lockyer Valley 8 restaurants = 1 per 4474 (68.3%)

27: Gympie 9 restaurants = 1 per 5185 (66%)

28: South Burnett 6 restaurants = 1 per 5294 (63.1%)

29: Scenic Rim 7 restaurants = 1 per 5345 (68.5%)

30: Bundaberg 17 restaurants = 1 per 5403 (68.5%)

31: Fraser Coast 18 restaurants = 1 per 5405 (65.5%)

34:Somerset 2 restaurants = 1 per 11,031 (67.3%)