Fast food outlet map published to help councils tackle obesity
News from our partners Public Health England
A map showing the density of fast food outlets has been published by Public Health England (PHE) today, to help in the fight against obesity.
The map is accompanied by data, showing the number of fast food outlets including burger bars, kebab and chip shops within each council area, and how this compares to the population in each area.
The density of fast food outlets in council areas ranges from 24 to 199 per 100,000 of the population. The average rate for England is 88. In the West Midlands region there are around 4,756 fast food outlets in total, ranging from a rate of 119.9 outlets per 100,000 head of population in Stoke-on-Trent, to 36.1 per 100,000 people in south Staffordshire.
Collecting this information is important because there is a growing body of evidence on the association between exposure to fast food outlets and obesity, despite some studies showing conflicting results. Fast food is likely to be high in saturated fat and salt, of which the population exceeds official recommendations. Data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows there are more overweight or obese children in poorer areas.
Dr Lola Abudu, director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE West Midlands, said:
“Having fish and chips or a curry is part of Britain’s culture; however, over a fifth of adults and children eat takeaway meals at home more than once a week, which is contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic. Some councils are already trying to limit new takeaways, particularly around schools, and we understand a number of councils in the West Midlands region are looking to do this, in order to discourage children from swapping their healthy school dinners for fast food. PHE encourages all councils to follow in their footsteps, as a healthy environment is a core element in tackling childhood obesity.
“We hope this data will prove useful to councils, to inform their planning processes, approving and licensing takeaway outlets and help with their long-term approaches to tackling obesity.”
Councils can use this data to target resource to help tackle overweight and obesity levels. PHE published a briefing for councils in 2014 on introducing fast food outlet exclusion zones around schools to help reduce children’s exposure to foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and calories.
PHE also published a joint briefing with the Town and Country Planning Association and Local Government Association to support councils to plan and design healthier weight environments.
Not all fast food is unhealthy. PHE will be working with the out-of-home sector, which includes restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets, to reduce the amount of sugar, saturated fat, salt and calories in the food and drink they serve, and increase the range of healthier options they offer. This will help to tackle overweight and obesity in children as part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.
The map also underlines PHE’s call for the population to follow a healthy, balanced diet, based on the new Eatwell Guide, which includes eating a minimum of five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day and increasing consumption of oily fish and fibre. Foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar should only be consumed occasionally and in small amounts.
For more information contact PHE West Midlands press office on 0121 232 9223/4