More than 5,800 fast food outlets in south east

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There are more than 5,800 fast food outlets in south east England, a new map published by Public Health England (PHE) reveals.

The analysis shows that in the south east there are 5,831 takeaways in total, ranging from 343 to 27.

Fast food is likely to be high in saturated fat and salt, of which the population exceeds official recommendations.

The map shows how many fast food outlets, including burger bars, kebab and chip shops, are in each local authority.

The density of fast food outlets in local authorities ranges from 24 to 199 per 100,000 of the population. The national average is 88.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “More than 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.

“PHE encourages other councils to follow in their footsteps as a healthy environment is a core part of tackling childhood obesity.

“It can be difficult for families to make healthy choices which is why we are working to support families to eat more healthily and be more physically active through campaigns such as Change4Life.”

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. 

Data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows there are more overweight or obese children in poorer areas.

Local authorities can use these data to target resource to help tackle overweight and obesity levels.

PHE published a briefing for local authorities 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 local authorities to plan and design healthier weight environments.

Not all fast food is unhealthy. PHE and partners 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 5 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.

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