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Opposition to fast food in Russia looks strong and lasting

November 26, 2014, 15:41 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, November 25. /TASS/. The crusade against fast food in Russia is proceeding unabated. It began earlier this year with a series of inspections of the US fast food chain McDonalds, which incidentally was interpreted by many as a political demarche in the context of sanctions and anti-sanctions. The further events showed that quite a few are very certain fast food is one of the main threats to a healthy lifestyle.

As the daily Izvestia has said, a member of the Civic Chamber, chief of the federal project Sober Russia, Sultan Khamzayev, has drafted a message to the Health Ministry and the consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor with a request for considering the possibility of counter-advertising of fast food and sweet soft drinks under the healthy lifestyle promotion campaign. He believes that such counter-advertising should appear on federal television channels, in the cyber space, and on the streets of big Russian cities.

In Russia, the main emphasis of social advertising devoted to health is placed on struggle against smoking and the abuse of alcohol. In the meantime, virtually nothing is being said about the hazardous effects of fast food. The problem of obesity and the accompanying diseases does not receive wide enough coverage.

“Regrettably, our federal channels do practically nothing to protect health,” Khamzayev complains. In his opinion it will be important to compare the properties of natural products and fast food. “For instance, it may be shown how much physical exercise will be required to regain normal shape after having a hamburger, French fries and a soft drink.”

“Launching such social advertising is a very good idea. The abundance of unhealthy foods is to be resisted somehow,” says dietologist Natalya Kruglova, a member of the National Association of Dietologists and Nutritionists. The harmful effects of fast food are known to all, but this knowledge is mostly theoretical. Very few can say what effects for health this sort of diet may entail in reality.

According to the public opinion studies fund FOM, 59% of Russians do not use fast food and do not buy semi-finished products at fast food joints. However, a large group of the population, first and foremost, youth, do so on the regular basis.

The public’s attention has been riveted to the fast food problem since the moment Russia’s watchdogs closed down several McDonald's restaurants for abusing sanitary and other rules. This year the authorities have checked nearly half of the 450 restaurants in various parts of the country and closed some of them. After the identified violations were eliminated some of the cafes and restaurants have reopened, but the debate over fast food is continuing unabated.

As many as 67% of the Russians the FOM pollster questioned in September welcomed the closure of McDonald’s restaurants and 44% believe that fast food outlets cause more harm than good.

It should be noted, though, that the people are angry not so much over domestic fast food joints, as over foreign — American ones in the first place. State Duma member from the Liberal Democrat Party, Vitaly Zolochevsky, has addressed the governor of the Vladimir Region with a call for preventing the opening of the Subway fast food chain. Zolochevsky has slammed fast food as “cheap Americanism” and “a long-going war against our people with tremendous losses for our country.


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