Obesity link with takeaways could prompt restrictions

By Ian Dipple Thursday 20 March 2014 Updated: 21/03 15:53

RESTRICTIONS could be placed on the number and location of takeaways across Redditch.

Research published in the British Medical Journal showed people who are more exposed to pizza and fried-food outlets were twice as likely to be obese.

The study tracked 5,000 adults born in Cambridgeshire between 1950 and 1975 and looked at their consumption and exposure to takeaway food at home, work and while travelling between the two.

It is already known food consumed away from home is less healthy and the study found those most exposed to fast food outlets at work had a 47 per cent greater risk of being seriously overweight.

Those living near a large number of takeaways were more than twice as likely to be obese.

Researchers say using planning laws to restrict the number of fast food outlets around offices, homes and schools could help combat Britain’s obesity crisis.

A staggering 65.9 per cent of adults in Redditch are carrying excess weight and the Health and Well-being profile for Redditch published in October last year suggests a link between lower rates of healthy eating amongst adults and obesity in areas where there is a high concentration of takeaways.

In areas around the town centre less than a quarter of adults eat healthily and over 30 per cent of adults are obese. The same pattern is seen in other districts with a high number of takeaways, such as Headless and Crabbs Cross.

Coun Marcus Hart, responsible for health and well-being on Worcestershire County Council, said part of the county’s obesity strategy was creating a healthy environment and they would be working with planners to look at how the influence of unhealthy takeaway foods could be limited.

“We know there has been a shift in public attitudes and behaviour and many more people are using takeaways than was the case in the past. However, we hope to work with businesses to ensure takeaways include healthy options, including point of sale information about content.”

Redditch Borough Council’s proposed Local Plan 4 includes a policy which limits the number of takeaways in district centres to no more than 25 per cent of the total number of units, but only on the grounds too many damages the appeal to shoppers, rather than because of the impact on health. It also seeks to ensure there is no over provision of fast food outlets in the town centre.

Coun Greg Chance, responsible for planning on the borough council, said as planning rules had to be evidence-based he welcomed more high quality research on the subject.

“Many people have called for a way to control the number of fast food outlets, which is one of the reasons the new local plan for Redditch we have just submitted to the Government includes just such a policy.”

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