Councils must control takeaway exposure, says PHE

England’s poorest areas are fast-food hotspots, with five times more outlets found in these communities than in the most affluent, according to a new analysis by Public Health England.

A map, chart and accompanying data published by PHE show the variation in density of fast-food outlets in local authorities across England, ranging from 26 to 232 per 100,000 population, with an average across the country of 96.5.

The data also suggests fast-food outlets – including chip shops, burger bars and pizza places – account for more than a quarter (26%) of all eateries in England.

Children exposed to these outlets, whether out with friends or on their way home from school, “may find it more difficult to choose healthier options”, PHE said.

The findings come on the back of a growing body of evidence that suggests there is a link between exposure to fast-food outlets and the prevalence of obesity.

Local authorities need to question whether these fast-food hotspots are compatible with their work to help families and young children live healthier lives, said PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone.

Many local authorities across England have taken action to address their food environment – at least 40 areas have developed policies to restrict the growth of new takeaways and fast-food outlets.

Gateshead Council has developed a hot food takeaway supplementary planning document (SPD), which was used to successfully control the proliferation of takeaways in areas with high levels of childhood obesity. Planning permission for a hot food takeaway is not given where:

  • children and young people congregate
  • high levels of obesity are observed
  • there is an over proliferation of hot food takeaways
  • clustering of hot food takeaways will have a negative impact on the vitality of the local area.

A new draft of London’s food strategy also includes restrictions on new hot food takeaways opening within 400 metres of an existing or proposed primary or secondary school.

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