RSPH has today welcomed a new report from Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, calling on the government to stem the influence of hot food takeaways in an effort to address childhood obesity.

The report comes at a time when fast food chains McDonalds and KFC are considering opening up to 800 new sites across the UK and childhood obesity levels remain at an all-time high.

‘Hot Food Takeaways: Planning a route to healthier communities’ makes the argument that local authorities need greater powers to improve the healthiness of the food options on offer to children. The report makes a series of recommendations on planning, design and licensing to tackle childhood obesity, including:

  • National Government support for local areas to increase the adoption of planning restrictions, and defend existing policies by critiquing evidence regularly submitted on behalf of fast food chains.
  • Explore the impact of restrictions on the sale of unhealthy food to under 16s on school days, or within school run hours. Also explore the potential for a licence to sell unhealthy food outside of these opening hours.
  • Reviewing residential space standards to ensure houses have sufficient space for food preparation, cooking, dining and storage.

RSPH released Routing Out Childhood Obesity in September 2019, which made calls to address the junk food offer around schools, by using a mixture of licensing and planning tools to ban unhealthy fast food outlets from within a 5-minute walk of school gates (backed by 65% of the public).

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said: “We welcome this report from Sustain, which demonstrates the potential positive impact local authorities can have on transforming the obesogenic environment. 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.”