Fastfood escapes Asia's blame game for obesity: poll

HONG KONG: Individuals and parents, rather than fastfood retailers, are to blame for rapidly increasing rates of obesity in Asia, according to a survey by Universal McCann.

The Global Nutrition and Obesity Study, which polled 11,000 people in eight regional markets over two months, found that in almost every market, people felt that obesity control was a matter of personal responsibility.

These findings resemble those for a similar survey conducted by Universal McCann in the US. Of the eight countries surveyed - Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan - almost all see lack of exercise as being more to blame for obesity than eating too much. Only Japan differed, with a 50/50 split.

According to Universal McCann executive vice-president and regional director for Asia-Pacific Allan Medforth, the survey has significant implications: "It starts to ask a few questions on what people are looking for.

"It's all about meeting the consumer needs - what does the consumer now expect?"

Australia saw the highest proportion of respondents blaming fastfood retailers, at 10 per cent, compared to seven per cent in China.

The study also zeroes in on parental attitudes to obesity, which Medforth sees as being of crucial importance.

"It helps to understand how mums actually feel on (obesity) because they are usually the gatekeepers in terms of purchasing," he added.

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