McDonald’s menu changes hardly spell doom for consumers


Stop the press. McDonald’s has once again upset Australian public health advocates for their menu. Not the content of the menu, mind you. They are upset about the visibility of the menu.

The old McDonald’s menu displayed the kilojoules in each product next to its price. According to McDonald’s, customers complained that these menus were ‘cluttered and difficult to read’.

The new electronic boards scroll through each product individually, and only then display its health information. A customer therefore, would have to wait for the product they are interested in to come up to view its kilojoule content – for example, a Big Mac.

The gall of fast food giants to make consumers wait and give them what they want! Cue outrage from the public health lobby:

Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, said it was disappointing McDonald’s had made it more difficult for people to choose their meals based on how many kilojoules were in it.

Fast food chains are required by law in New South Wales and South Australia to display the kilojoule content of each item next to the price. Similar laws were floated in Victoria by the Brumby government, but never legislated – a good thing too, as they don’t work.

The public health lobby assumes that just because people can see how many kilojoules are in their food, they will make different decisions. But that simply isn’t the case – nutrition is one of many factors a consumer takes into account when purchasing a product. Price, convenience, and taste, for example, are also considerations. If you have made the decision to go to McDonald’s, I dare say you have considered why you are there, what it sells, and what you’d like.

And so what if you haven’t? Nanny state policies like this assume that people can’t make decisions for themselves, and that even if they do, these decisions are not the “morally right” ones endorsed by “experts” who clearly know better. This paternalism, under the guise of ‘public health’, has transformed the Nanny State into the Bully State, according to the Democracy Institute’s Dr Patrick Basham:

As Bully Staters do not want us to smoke cigarettes, gamble, drink alcohol, or gain weight, they will ratchet up their campaign to shame and coerce those who rejoice in the individual’s right to pursue pleasure. Under the Bully State, the real bully is Nanny the Policy Nurse, who dispenses regulatory ‘cures’ for all manner of alleged social ills, from smoking to simply having fun.

Educate children of healthy eating habits, yes. But leave the adults alone. And enjoy your Big Mac, guilt-free, knowing that you are perfectly capable of making your own decisions.

You can watch Dr Basham’s speech to the IPA this year about the growing dangers of the Nanny State here.


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