Has the fast food industry succeeded in keeping junk food in the spotlight?
Covid-19 forced us all to spend more time indoors, reminding us of the simple pleasures of home cooked meals. It also forced fast food chains to close their doors to the public. For the first time in decades the major chains found themselves without the helpful glare of the marketing spotlight.
Health as priority
Covid-19 has made everyone think about their health in some way.
Obesity has been shown to be one of the major risk factors for people developing Covid-19 complications. As a result the experts can be heard regularly championing the shedding a few pounds as a wise and sensible way to pass lockdown.
Yet fast food chains like McDonalds and Krispy Kreme have been lapping up the PR that comes through ‘honouring’ key frontline workers with free food, and deliveries of sugar and fat packed snacks.
As an industry they have worked hard to find ways to continue to cater to their everyday customer too, increasing delivery and takeaway services and turning up the dial on nostalgic marketing campaigns that paint a tempting picture of life after lockdown and the return to daily burgers and fries.
Time to change?
But the virus hit the UK at a time when 1 in 5 children are starting primary school overweight or obese, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school.
If we have the pandemic to thank for anything, it’s that there is now little doubt in any minds that we must tackle the obesity crisis, and we must start with young people. That means diverting attention away from junk food and onto healthier options instead.
As we emerge slowly from lockdown, we must make sure all children not only have access to healthy choices on our highstreets, at home and at school, but that we are making it easy to eat healthily. The fast food industry has a key part to play in doing that.
Where should we shine the spotlight?
We must hold on to the re-established values of home cooked meals, and of the sense of community that has surrounded our food over recent weeks. We must invest as a society in health.
We have an opportunity to refocus our food system and build back healthier. It is time we asked our government to stand behind societal health, especially that of our children and young adults. We want to see healthy highstreets, healthy communities and healthy homes for every child, no matter where they live.
It is time for junk food to step out of the spotlight and make way for a healthier future.