Sunday, June 26, 2022

McDonald’s branch expansion has been blocked as council tells residents they are already overweight

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Proposals to create a second McDonalds drive-thru lane as part of a £315,000 facelift are being opposed by local authorities, who have expressed concern about obesity rates in the area

Plans to add a second drive-thru lane to a McDonald’s restaurant have been blocked after the council told its residents they were already overweight.

The £315,000 expansion has been planned by the fast food giants for their branch in the Sydney suburb of Cremorne, Australia.

But local residents are furious with the local authority’s decision.

The new two-lane window could have accommodated an additional 14 people at any time, but local obesity rates were cited as the reason for rejecting the proposal.

“There is concern that increasing the accessibility of fast food via an expanded drive-thru could adversely affect the eating habits of children and adults and undermine existing population health strategies to combat obesity,” said a spokesman for the North Sydney Local Health District.

“Data from the Australian Urban Observatory shows that Cremorne already has more than adequate access to fast food.

“Providing better access to fast food via an expanded two-lane thoroughfare is unlikely to result in positive public health outcomes.”

Many in Cremorne have disputed this stance, arguing that the local adult obesity rate is 19 percent, well below the national average of 33 percent.

But it was also suggested by Health District senior managers Andrew Wheeler and Mary McCafferty that the “oversized” drive-through would result in fewer people cycling or walking to the restaurant.

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McDonald’s said the move is in line with a change in people’s eating habits since the pandemic, with more customers preferring to eat in their cars than in restaurants.

The company also noted that it has introduced a number of new healthy options and that the majority of its restaurants now have two-lane drive-thrus.

“McDonald’s has been part of the Cremorne community for more than 40 years,” said a spokesman. “We are investing again in the restaurant to make it more accessible and convenient for our customers and crew.

“Over the past two years, there has been an 8.3 percent increase in drive-through transactions, offset by a decline in over-the-counter sales. An additional lane will improve efficiency and reduce traffic congestion for our customers.”

Local radio DJ Ben Fordham, meanwhile, dismissed the health district’s concerns as “not a problem”.

He said, “Seriously? What a ridiculous example of government overreach.”

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