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Bid for healthier high streets as Ipswich and Tendring revealed among ‘fast food hotspots’

PUBLISHED: 08:46 29 June 2018

Data showed a variation in the number of fast food outlets in certain areas of Suffolk and Essex Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Data showed a variation in the number of fast food outlets in certain areas of Suffolk and Essex Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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Health leaders have raised concerns about “fast food hotspots” across Suffolk and Essex.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health, James Reeder Picture: DAVID GARRADSuffolk County Council cabinet member for health, James Reeder Picture: DAVID GARRAD

New data released today by Public Health England (PHE) reveals certain areas of the counties have a much higher concentration of fast food restaurants than others.

In Suffolk, Ipswich has come out on top with 128.5 outlets – including burger joints, kebab houses and fish and chip shops – per 100,000 people.

Waveney has the county’s second highest concentration of fast food eateries with a rate of 100.7, while St Edmundsbury sits at 73.2.

This compares with a much lower rate of just 54.3 in Babergh, 55.6 in Mid Suffolk and 68.1 in Suffolk Coastal.

PHE has linked the locations of the so-called fast food hotspots to more deprived communities.

In Essex, the highest hitters are Southend-on-Sea (109.6 per 100,000), Tendring (96.3) and Castle Point (94.7).

Rochford has the lowest concentration, with a rate of just 25.7 per 100,000.

While not all fast food is unhealthy and is usually fine to eat in moderation, it is typically higher in salt, calories and saturated fat, all of which can cause serious health problems when consumed too often and in large quantities.

PHE East has pledged to work with local authorities to create healthier high streets and is calling for them to ban fast food outlets from anywhere within 400 metres of where children gather – including schools, community centres and parks – to tackle childhood obesity.

Latest NHS figures show 30.9% of Year 6 children in Suffolk and 31.6% in Essex were obese or overweight in 2016/17.

Dr Simon How, health and wellbeing programme lead for PHE East, said: “Streets crowded with fast food outlets limits our food choice which can have a huge impact on our health and those who we are responsible for.”

Suffolk County Council is launching a new award scheme in September called Take Out Eat Well to recognise takeaways that offer healthier options.

James Reeder, cabinet member for health, said: “Sometimes it can be really difficult to know whether or not the food you’re eating, or giving to your children, is healthy. But we know that takeaways aren’t usually a healthy option.

“That’s why we’re developing an award scheme to celebrate and highlight takeaways that do their bit to serve healthier options and give people more choice and control over what they eat.”

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