Deakin University

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Price promotions offered by quick service restaurants in Australia: analysis from an obesity prevention perspective

AbstractObjective:To assess the price promotions offered by major quick service restaurant (QSR) chains in Australia from an obesity prevention perspective.Design:Cross-sectional audit of ten of the largest QSR chains in Australia. We collected information regarding temporary price promotions and ‘combination deals’ offered by each chain over thirteen consecutive weeks in 2019–2020. We assessed the type of promotions, the magnitude of discount, and the energy content and healthiness of items promoted (based on Victorian Government criteria).Setting:Melbourne, Australia.Participants:Ten major QSR chains.Results:Temporary price promotions (n 196) and combination deals (n 537 on regular menus, n 36 on children’s menus) were observed across the ten selected QSR chains. In relation to temporary price promotions, the mean magnitude of discount for main menu items (n 75) was 41·7 %. The price reductions and energy content of combination deals varied substantially the by chain, the meal size and the sides/drinks selected as part of the ‘deal’. When the lowest-energy options (e.g. small chips, small sugar-free drink) were included as part of each combination deal, the mean energy content was 2935 kJ, compared to 5764 kJ when the highest-energy options (e.g. large fries, large sugar-sweetened drink) were included. Almost all available products were classified as unhealthy.Conclusion:Price promotions are ubiquitous in major QSR chains in Australia and provide incentives to consume high levels of energy. The action to restrict price promotions on unhealthy foods and ensure lower-energy default items as part of combination deals should be included as part of efforts to improve population diets and address obesity in Australia.