Fast food companies need to be more transparent about the ingredients their food contains and focus on helping consumers make healthier diet decisions, a new report suggests.
Deakin University's Global Obesity Centre examined 11 of Australia's largest fast food restaurants and ranked them in terms of their policies relating to healthy eating.
By ranking the restaurants out of 100, the researchers found that most of them have not put enough effort into warning consumers about the unhealthy ingredients they use such as sugar and saturated fat.
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The restaurants were criticised for promoting meal deals that could harm people's health.
"Unhealthy diets are creating a public health crisis in Australia," said the report's lead author Professor Gary Sacks.
He said the industry needs to commit more to helping people make healthier diet decisions, and not on offering deals for products that are unhealthy.
Subway was ranked the best in terms of its commitment to nutrition and obesity prevention, but only managed a score of 48/100.
McDonald's came in second place with a score of 42/100, closely followed by KFC with a score of 41/100.
The fast-food joint with the worst ranking was Domino's Pizza which scored just 3/100.
The restaurant scored a zero ranking in every category except for nutrition labelling and transparency in its corporate relationships, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"There's a real opportunity for fast food companies to help address the problem by introducing policies that make healthier choices, like water and fruit or salad, the automatic option for kids' meals," Mr Sacks said.
The majority of fast food restaurants ranked in the study do not identify nutrition and health as being a focus area, the study says, with an industry-wide failure to encourage healthier eating practices.