Healthy eating in Australia has a new enemy: home-delivered McDonald's.
The global fast food giant has quietly introduced a trial of home delivery in a Sydney outlet that is in one of the city's most disadvantaged areas and has one of the highest levels of obesity.
North Parramatta's McDelivery service is offering ''family value'' packs containing hamburgers, soft drinks, chicken nuggets and fries (with the option of side salads) between 5pm and 9pm every day.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said the trial, which includes a $4.95 delivery fee and a $25 minimum, commenced on November 27 and had so far been ''well received'' .
The pamphlet, titled ''McDelivery - Macca's is now delivering straight to your door'' shows a range of burgers and meal packs, with no mention of the restaurant's healthier alternatives. Next to each option in the pamphlet is a kilojoule count.
Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said the service was yet another blow to healthy eating.
''It just makes it easier for people to get food that is high in saturated fat and high in salt and it encourages people to have meals that lack in vegetables,'' Dr Stanton said.
''We need people eating more McDonald's like a hole in the head. It's not something the community needs,'' she said.
Modelled on the home delivery service in Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia and Korea, the McDonald's spokeswoman said the location of the store was chosen based on the population, density and accessibility of the area.
According to the National Health Performance Agency report, the western Sydney Medicare local area, which includes the six suburbs the service delivers to, has the second highest number of overweight or obese adults, just behind south western Sydney.
''Why are they introducing it there? Why aren't they introducing it into Mosman? Because people would be very unlikely to buy it,'' Dr Stanton said.
According to the recent NHPA report, socially disadvantaged communities such as western Sydney are more likely to have easier access to fast food outlets, and these groups are higher consumers of fast food, said Jane Martin of the Obesity Policy Coalition.
''These chains have huge marketing budgets, provide unhealthy food at low cost and are now home delivering, which makes it harder and harder for people to make healthier choices,'' she said.
According to the Coalition, a quarter of Australian children and 62 per cent of adults are now overweight or obese.
At the buzzing North Parramatta restaurant on Saturday, Stephen Spratt was having lunch with his wife Yervette and five-year-old Jessica: ''My concern is what the quality is going to be like at the other end when you deliver it,'' he said.
Two school friends, Ellise Hayes, 12 and Gemma Donnelley, 13, thought it was a ‘‘cool’’ idea.
‘‘It’s good. It saves petrol. If you’re home alone you can just order,’’ Ellise said.
‘‘It’s not unhealthy. If you’re fat you shouldn’t [eat it]. But if you’re skinny you should.’’