A medical researcher has thrown his support behind parents pushing to keep McDonald’s out of Guildford and junk food off the menu for a nearby school that ranks as the fittest primary school in Australia, and their protest will be set to music with a free concert on Sunday.
University of Western Australia (UWA) Adjunct Professor Garry Tester said research from Princess Margaret Hospital has revealed an alarming rate of type 2 diabetes in primary aged children due to poor diet and exercise.
Conversely a UWA led study over the past 30 years, on 27,000 primary school-aged children, found Guildford Primary School students were the fittest in the nation.
Last year the Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove came to Guildford Primary School and presented awards to recognise the enormous amount of effort the Guildford community and school has put into the health of their children.
The school’s healthy initiatives included daily sports, no canteen and children bringing in healthy food from home.
Dr Tester is the chief executive officer of Sports Challenge Australia, which has the largest data base in the world of fitness and skill levels of children aged five to 17.
He said the brain’s gray matter peaked at around 12-years-of-age, when it was at its largest, and this was where children were set up for life with exposure to positive or negative influences, which was recorded in the hippocampus area of the brain.
“Therefore exposure to high sugar, salt and fat is recorded and it is very hard to change biologically as young people grow into adults,” Dr Tester said.
“Therefore having exposure, temptation meters away from a primary school is poor community citizenship by any fast food outlet.
Guildford mother Claire Scanlan said the proposal flew in the face of the WA Government’s Healthy Children Progam, which had a focus on healthy eating in the early years.
The community liaison officer for the Guildford Family Playgroup said her organisation represented over 100 families and there was a strong objection to McDonald’s bid to build a 24-hour drive through restaurant at the back of The Guildford Hotel for a number of reasons.
Including insufficient parking for patrons, traffic issues and the fact it was at odds with Guildford’s Conservation Policy.
Mrs Sclanlan said the proposal also directly contravened the recently released Western Australian Health Promotion Strategic Framework 2017-2021 and it was inconsistent with the objectives of the WA Public Health Act 2016.
“As a parent, I am outraged that our government allows the interests of private enterprise to rein over our community’s health,” she said.
“This development exploits the health of the most vulnerable in our society: our children.
“As a parent it is a daily struggle to maintain a healthy diet for our children and for a fast food chain that markets heavily to children to set up just 150m from Guildford Primary School is demoralising to us parents who only want our children to be healthy.”
The Guildford Association (GA) has also voiced its objection to the application set to be heard by the Eastern Metro Region Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) on a date yet to be confirmed.
In a letter to the City of Swan dated May 5 president Barbara Dundas said the GA was concerned the proponent argued for a multitude of variations, and discussed each one in isolation, yet when they were put together they formed a structure that should not be considered for the historic town.
Mrs Dundas said the traffic and parking data was also under-represented and out-of-date, therefore its real impact to Guildford was not accurately reflected.
She said the city needed to provide a detailed report, or meet with those affected, to explain the noise implications discussed in technical detail by the proponents so residents were better informed and able to comment.
Mrs Dundas said the GA also believed it was necessary for the city to get legal advice on whether council or officers had committed the community to a 42 car bay concession that was agreed for an earlier and separate development application (DA).
She said the present DA required up to 477 car bays and it had a short fall of over 434 bays.
“This has to be considered with the fact Guildford has no major car parking option in the town in the medium and long term, and that this is a totally different DA to that first presented.”
Guildford residents have organised a free protest concert on Sunday, May 21 in Stirling Square where children can enjoy free activities and music will play from 11am until 4pm.
Bands Desert Mist, Black Chooks, CEOL and others will play in support of the Say ‘no’ to McDonald’s in Guildford campaign.