Putting healthier food environments at the heart of planning

Our native environment have a big impression on us and we dwell in an atmosphere that may inadvertently encourage unhealthy behaviours – eating extra and exercising much less.  Factors affecting our selections can embody entry to lively travel and availability of inexperienced areas, in addition to the density of quick food retailers.

Many of our streets are saturated with quick food retailers, promoting food akin to chips, burgers, kebabs, fried rooster and pizza. The sheer density of these retailers might make it simpler for us to eat an excessive amount of, too typically – and the truth that almost all retailers don’t have any or restricted diet info in retailer could make knowledgeable selections troublesome.

Excess energy are the root trigger of the weight problems drawback

While not all quick food is unhealthy, it’s usually excessive in saturated fats, salt and energy. Excess calorie consumption is the root trigger of the weight problems disaster, with chubby or overweight youngsters consuming as much as 500 further energy per day, relying on their age and intercourse.

Children with extra weight usually tend to be chubby or overweight as adults, growing their danger of preventable ailments akin to sort 2 diabetes, heart illness and a few cancers.

With a 3rd of youngsters leaving major faculty chubby or overweight, shaping our food atmosphere is vital to supporting healthier existence.

Where are England’s quick food hotspots?

Analysis from PHE reveals the density of quick food retailers varies per native authority, starting from 26 to 232 retailers per 100,000 inhabitants, with the common throughout England being 96.5. It supplies proof highlighting the availability of quick food retailers in some of the nation’s most deprived areas.

The map under illustrates the quantity of quick food retailers per 100,000 inhabitants by native authority, and the variation throughout England.


Restricting quick food retailers

Both the constructed and pure environments can have an affect on our health and wellbeing. Children might discover it tougher to make healthier selections when uncovered to so many quick food choices, whether or not on their method to and from faculty or out with buddies.

Local authorities have powers to assist form these environments, together with tackling the development of new quick food retailers, but additionally introducing extra biking paths, and making the greatest use of open inexperienced areas.

Some native authorities have proven nice management on this space, and the up to date childhood obesity plan features a three-year trailblazer programme to establish what works and share greatest apply. This will embody assets to additional help native authorities in utilizing their present powers, with the goal to extend the proportion of native authorities addressing childhood weight problems over the subsequent 5 years. We’ve seen daring, forward-thinking motion in some areas and we sit up for seeing how different native authorities can study from one another.

PHE has labored with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to strengthen planning coverage to create healthier environments. The new part of the Health and Well-Being Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) will have an effect on all future planning selections in England, with native authorities now obliged to take it under consideration when getting ready native plans or deciding on planning purposes.

As half of the PPG, authorities are inspired to make use of their planning selections to limit quick food retailers, together with:

  • areas the place youngsters and younger folks congregate akin to colleges, neighborhood centres and playgrounds
  • areas with excessive ranges of weight problems, deprivation and common poor health
  • areas with over-concentration and clustering of retailers inside a specified space

We have additionally produced a toolkit to assist native authorities work with native companies to supply healthier alternate options to their greatest sellers – for instance through the use of much less salt, sugar, energy, saturated fats and providing smaller parts. This will assist shoppers get pleasure from healthier variations of the meals they already eat – they usually might not even discover the distinction

Taster’s Fried Chicken Shop in Tottenham reveals that with the proper management and collaboration, this may be achieved – it’s a small enterprise working with the native authority to assist households and kids select healthier choices. As nicely as introducing a healthier menu, workers are skilled to signpost clients to healthier selections, with promising outcomes.

The Government is dedicated to tackling weight problems

Government is dedicated to tackling childhood weight problems on a nationwide degree and PHE performs a big function in the problem.

The newest chapter of the authorities’s childhood obesity plan features a session on obligatory calorie labelling in the out of residence sector. If profitable, this may degree the enjoying subject and supply extra clear alternative for shoppers, as calorie info is already obligatory for pre-packaged meals and drinks in the retail sector. With quick food retailers seemingly on each nook, they could nonetheless show troublesome to withstand for a lot of – however clear and constant calorie labelling at the level of alternative is a big step ahead for making an knowledgeable alternative when eating out and about.

We know many dad and mom discover it troublesome to make healthier selections for the household when eating out, so this may occasionally make it simpler for them.

The authorities’s calorie and sugar reduction programmes have challenged the food trade to scale back sugar and energy of their hottest merchandise – 20% of sugar by 2020, and 20% of energy by 2024. These, along with the authorities’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy, cowl 50% of youngsters’s complete calorie consumption.

These nationwide efforts are serving to to make many on a regular basis meals and drinks healthier by concentrating on the huge gamers. However sustained native motion can also be wanted to assist smaller companies play their half.

What does success appear like?

Many native authorities are taking optimistic motion to vary the food atmosphere – we imagine at least 40 native authorities have launched Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) to limit the development of new takeaways and quick food retailers.

The Gateshead and Newcastle Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan (2015) set out an intention to enhance entry to healthier food and management the location of, and entry to, unhealthy food retailers.

Gateshead Council has developed a scorching food takeaway SPD.  The SPD, supported by an built-in public health coverage, was used to efficiently management the proliferation of takeaways in areas with excessive ranges of childhood weight problems.

In addition to different standards, planning permission for a scorching food takeaway shouldn’t be given the place:

  • youngsters and younger folks congregate
  • excessive ranges of weight problems are noticed
  • there may be an over proliferation of scorching food takeaways
  • clustering of scorching food takeaways could have a damaging impression on the vitality of the native space.

Since the SPD was adopted, all scorching food takeaway purposes should be accompanied by a health impression evaluation. Since adopting this method, no new planning purposes for decent food takeaways have been accredited below the new SPD.

Following this work, the council has set the following targets:

  • to scale back the quantity of overweight youngsters in Year 6 (aged 4-5 years) in Gateshead to 10% by 2025
  • to scale back the quantity of adults with extra weight to under 40% by 2030.

Gateshead is only a single instance of a neighborhood authority taking optimistic motion to vary the food atmosphere – many others are additionally doing impressive work to deal with weight problems.

Local authorities clearly have a problem on their fingers in balancing healthier environments with the demand for thriving and vibrant excessive streets.

However, with the impression of weight problems on native authority social care budgets estimated at £352 million per 12 months, encouraging healthier selections could make a optimistic distinction.

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