The number of hot fast food outlets should be limited in areas of high deprivation and where there is an existing problem with childhood obesity, according to a Lancashire county councillor.
Charles Edwards is calling on district councils - which make decisions about planning applications for takeaways - to consider introducing restrictions, following a 20 percent increase in fast food shops across the county between 2012 and 2016.
“I can’t believe that [figure]”, County Councillor Edwards said. “I don’t think it’s fulfilling a need and I don’t think it’s unreasonable in [some] deprived areas to say, ‘We’ve got plenty now’.”
In a debate at full council on Thursday, County Cllr Edwards - who represents Morecambe South and is the Lead Member for Health on the authority - will call on fellow councillors to support recommendations, including:
***A 400m restriction zone for new hot food takeaways surrounding secondary schools.
***Refusing applications for new hot food takeaways within wards where more than 15 percent of year 6 pupils and 10 percent of reception pupils are classed as obese.
***Preventing the clustering of too many hot food takeaways in deprived neighbourhoods.
The suggestions have come from Lancashire County Council’s public health team and it is advice which County Cllr Edwards says district authorities have requested.
Public health statistics show that, amongst children in year 6 living in the most deprived parts of the county, just over a quarter will be obese. However, in the least deprived areas, that figure is halved to just over 12 percent.
Asked about the challenge of feeding a family on a tight budget in a deprived area, County Cllr Edwards added “This is one of many things we need to do - I’m not saying this is going to change childhood obesity overnight, no policy will.
“A healthy population is a wealthy population and the best way to tackle deprivation of the wallet is to tackle deprivation of the soul, heart and body.”
Local authorities are permitted to use planning policy to limit the proliferation of certain types of outlet in order to create a healthier environment.
National guidelines, which were updated last year, encourage councils to promote access to healthy food and suggest planning authorities should have particular regard to the proximity of fast food outlets to locations where young people congregate.
Facts and stats
Percentage of children in year 6 who are classed as obese (source: Public Health England, February 2018):
Hyndburn - 22.8%
Pendle - 22.2%
Burnley - 21.2%
Blackpool - 21.1%
West Lancashire - 19.8%
Rossendale - 19.3%
Lancaster - 19.0%
Chorley - 18.1%
Preston - 18.1%
Wyre - 16.8%
South Ribble - 16.1%
Fylde - 15.6%
Ribble Valley - 14.3%