According to a new study, unhealthy home delivery should be regulated as soon as possible
Ordering Uber Eats or other food, booze, or vape delivery from the comfort of your own home is extremely popular, but a new report is urging the government to take immediate action, citing worries that unregulated, on-demand home deliveries are harming the nation’s health.
This is the first study of its kind to look at the spread and types of on-demand delivery services for unhealthy products across Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as to look at them on a national level. It was written by two recent medical graduates for the Department of Population Health at the University of Otago in Christchurch.
The study, which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, took the form of a cross-sectional, desktop analysis of all on-demand delivery services in the country over a four-week period in April–May last year.
“The COVID-19 epidemic has worsened the substantial development in online food, booze, nicotine, and vape delivery,” adds co-author Dr. Hannah Miles. What’s more, it’s anticipated to continue, with Aotearoa New Zealand’s yearly revenue growth rate predicted to be about 6% in the next three years.
Dr. Brylie Apeldoorn, one of the co-authors, says that their research shows that the government needs to act quickly to keep up with the expected growth.
“Despite the fact that we presently have no defined standards for these platforms in Aotearoa, New Zealand, the ease of technology and consumer demand for on-demand, online, home delivery has been fast-paced,” says Dr. Apeldoorn.
Having home delivery without proper control could make nutritional, alcohol, and nicotine-related hazards worse while also undermining government efforts to make them less bad, like the goal to make the country smoke-free by 2025.
The study found 130 services in Aotearoa, New Zealand that provide on-demand, third-party delivery of unhealthy commodities (excluding individual restaurants that deliver to customers themselves), with 76 percent supplying food, 37 percent alcohol, 23 percent vaping products, and 21 percent cigarettes. Phone apps are available for ordering at 91 percent of the restaurants.
Data was gathered from the businesses’ websites and mobile apps, with an emphasis on their locations, product availability, availability times, shipping prices, promotion techniques, and how they deal with legal issues that arise when people buy age-restricted items.
According to Dr. Miles, they were shocked by the nationwide availability of on-demand delivery.
As expected, our ten largest cities had the most services accessible, but we also identified several in smaller towns like Tokoroa and Levin, implying that rurality isn’t always a safeguard against harmful items.
As a result of these goods’ negative health effects, this raises questions about how people will be able to get the health care they need because of this. For example, on-demand alcohol delivery raises concerns about this.
Promotions are employed as a marketing tactic by 97 percent of on-demand, internet-delivery services, according to the report.
It appears that nearly all employ promotion tactics to encourage consumption, with price promotions, memberships, and referral prizes being widely used, adds Dr. Miles.
The findings of the study relating to the supply of age-restricted alcohol, vaping, and nicotine products are particularly concerning, according to the co-authors.
While all of the companies that supplied them stated that they had an age verification process in place, only 87 percent of them had a birthdate field and only 73 percent had an 18+ age pop-up upon entering their websites. Worryingly, just 60% of the products appeared to have a product restriction.
According to the current Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012), alcohol deliveries must not take place between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the liquor license must be shown on the vendor’s website, and the vendor must take reasonable steps to verify age.
On the other hand, Dr. Apeldoorn claims that their research uncovered abnormalities, adding to their plea for immediate government intervention to explain any legal obligations.
While all services adhered to delivery hours, we discovered differences in licensing between third-party services that deliver restricted items and those that hold their own liquor licenses, with third-party services displaying the primary vendors’ liquor licenses on their websites rather than holding their own liquor license, says Dr. Apeldoorn.
“In other cases, the liquor license was only obtained for the location where the company is registered, not where it is distributed, potentially causing complications in places where liquor licensing trusts currently operate.”
This raises questions about legal culpability for delivering forbidden commodities to minors or inebriated people, and it suggests a higher rate of illegal deliveries among third-party deliverers for whom the courier business bears no legal responsibility. “
Regulation and increased monitoring, according to the co-authors, are also urgently needed to prevent Aotearoa, New Zealand from following some alarming international patterns.
One third of people under the age of 25 had alcohol delivered to them without an ID check or while they were away from home, even though rules say this isn’t allowed.
Dr. Rose Crossin, the study’s supervisor, said the research is current and will help the team’s future research into the public health and equity implications of on-demand delivery services, as well as the need for legislation to keep up with this quickly expanding technology.