The Sustain charity is calling on the next Government to tackle child obesity by restricting the number of takeaways near schools.
In its report Hot Food Takeaways: Planning a route to healthier communities, the alliance for better food and farming says it wants to see local authorities given new powers to reduce the number of existing fast food outlets near school.
Restricting the sale of unhealthy food to under-16s on school days, and introducing licensing are other proposals, as well as reviewing residential space standards to ensure houses have sufficient space for food prep, cooking, dining, and eating.
Sustain has also called for the Government to support local use of existing planning restrictions around fast food outlets, as well as defending these policies by critiquing evidence put forward by fast food outlets.
The charity has also discovered that fast food outlets McDonalds and KFC are investing millions in expansion plans, at odds with the Government’s commitment to cut child obesity by 2030.
Sustain deputy chief executive Ben Reynolds, who produced the report, said: “Planning policies to restrict new hot food takeaways near schools are one of the few concrete ways local authorities have to stop their areas becoming even more saturated with unhealthy food. Yet even these tools are coming under attack, with local authorities lacking capacity to provide adequate evidence to stand up to the resources of multinational chains. Unlike Government’s aims to halve child obesity – it’s almost as if these businesses want to double child obesity by 2030.
“We recommend that the next Government gives local authorities more powers to decide what happens in their localities. Current planning policies only focus on new takeaways near schools. If we are serious about tackling child obesity, we should also be looking at existing takeaways and other outlets selling unhealthy food to kids around school hours.”
The Royal Society for Public Health also published a report earlier this year calling for stronger local authority powers to tackle child obesity including restrictions around fast food outlets.
RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “Hot food takeaways dominate the high street, particularly in the most deprived areas, which have the highest levels of childhood obesity, yet planning powers focus on the areas around schools, forgetting about the places children go when they leave the school gates.
“Young people deserve to have a healthy start in life – the current street environment does not make this easy. If we want to make communities healthier, we must equip planners with the tools to turn the tide on the overwhelming junk food offer.”