HONG KONG: Fast food chains across Asia-Pacific may have to tweak their offer to tackle an obesity epidemic for which their customers hold them at least partly responsible, a new survey suggests.

Research firm YouGov polled over 9,000 people across the APAC region to discover how they viewed fast food and obesity. It found that while just 7% disliked fast food, four-fifths (81%) believed that it contributes to obesity.

Further, 64% thought that fast food chains bear some responsibility for consumers’ health and, when offered a range of options that these outlets or public bodies could take to tackle obesity, only 5% rejected all of them – indicating that 95% support action of some sort.

The most popular, YouGov reported, were increasing the number of low fat options available to consumers; limiting the amount of fat in foods that fast food chains are allowed to sell, and making more information available about what is in fast food – each of which was supported by half of those surveyed.

Other measures that gained support included forcing fast food companies to make mandatory contributions to the healthcare system (supported by 39%); an increase in public/private partnerships to support healthy eating (supported by 38%); and encouraging fast food companies to make voluntary contributions to the healthcare system (30%).

Consumers were reluctant to dip into their pockets, however: only 13% backed higher taxes on fast food.

In terms of fast-food preferences, fried chicken was top, favoured by 34% of those polled; pizza and burgers also scored highly, chosen by 28% and 20% of people respectively.

Preference of fast food was the same across the region, except for Australia, Hong Kong and the Philippines, where people liked pizza more than fried chicken.

Data sourced from YouGov; additional content by WARC staff