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Takeaways up almost 50pc in Redbridge despite anti-obesity push

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 October 2018

Fast food restaurants have proliferated in Redbridge over the last eight years

Fast food restaurants have proliferated in Redbridge over the last eight years

Archant

The number of fast food restaurants in Redbridge has increased by 48pc per cent in the past eight years - faster than the national average.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), analysed by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, reveal that 55 takeaways have sprung up in the borough since 2010, increasing from 115 to 170.

This means the number of takeaways in the borough is expanding at a faster pace than the national average of 34pc.

Their proliferation is also oustripping the speed at which the borough’s population is growing - ballooning from 42 takeaways per 100,000 in 2010 to 56 in 2018.

However, this figure is still lower than the current nationwide average of 61 takeaways per 100,000 people.

The number of unlicensed restaurants and cafes (those where alcohol is not offered) in Redbridge has more than doubled from 60 in 2010 to 130 in 2018.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Heath England (PHE), said: “Many councils are challenged with striking the balance between a vibrant high street and a healthy one.

“However, it’s difficult to make healthier choices when our neighbourhoods are saturated with takeaways, restaurants and cafes.

“Everyone has a role in tackling obesity.

“Councils can help address the growth of fast food outlets and we’re working with the food and drink industry to make everyday products healthier.”

Takeaways currently make up 39pc of all food outlets in Redbridge.

At the same time, two thirds of adults aged 16 or over in the borough are classified as overweight or obese, higher than the UK and London average, according to the council’s 2017-18 annual public health report.

The same report states that the prevalence of obesity among children in reception is 9.8pc, higher than the national average of 9.3pc but lower than the capital’s 10.3pc.

PHE said there is strong evidence linking the density of fast food outlets to the level of deprivation in a community.

In June, it released figures showing the distribution of fast food restaurants across the borough, broken down according to 2016 ward boundaries.

Seven Kings tops the board with 20 outlets, followed by Clementswood and Loxford which have 16 each.

Conversely, Wanstead and Aldborough have the least number of takeaways with three outlets each, followed by Monkhams which has just four.

A council spokeswoman said: “Keeping our residents healthy is a priority for the council which is why as part of the Local Plan adopted in March 2018, we included a policy which resists proposals for takeaways within 400m of the boundary of an existing school, youth centre or park and subsequently we have refused a number of applications for takeaways.

“It’s important we help local businesses thrive whilst promoting healthy eating and that’s why we are working closely with fast food companies to encourage them to sign up to the Healthy Catering Commitment which aims to reduce the level of saturated fat and salt content in their foods, offer healthier food and drink options and make smaller portions for customers on request.

“Additionally, working with our leisure partner Vision we have a dedicated officer working with schools to help reduce childhood obesity, the Active Stars initiative for children, and a new weight management programme for adults.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Local authorities have a range of powers to create healthier environments, including planning policies to limit the opening of additional fast food outlets close to schools and in areas of over-concentration.

“However, we know these decisions are not always easy for councils, which is why we recently announced our Trailblazer programme to support them to use their powers to best effect.

“We are also consulting on introducing calorie labelling for takeaway menus and other outlets including restaurants, to help families make more informed decisions about their food when eating out or getting a takeaway.”

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