Figures reveal increase in fast-food outlets in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council is among those taking steps to limit new hot-food takeaways via its Local Plan.
Northumberland County Council is among those taking steps to limit new hot-food takeaways via its Local Plan.

Fast-food outlets now make up a smaller proportion of eateries in Northumberland than they did at the start of the decade.

However, the number of fast-food outlets per 100,000 of population has risen significantly, mirroring the trend in almost all parts of the country.

Figures from the BBC Shared Data Unit show that in 2010, Northumberland had 145 fast-food outlets from a total of 325 (45 per cent), which represented 46 fast-food outlets per 100,000 people.

This year, the proportion has dropped - there are now 200 fast-food outlets from a total of 510 (39 per cent), but the per 100,000 rate is now 63. This figures sees Northumberland ranked 92nd out of 215 councils for the highest number per 100,000 people.

The UK has one of the highest proportions of overweight and obese children in the European Union, with the rate of severe obesity among Year 6 children (aged 10 to 11) at a record-high, according to Public Health England.

This year, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set targets to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

Plans in England include banning the sale of energy drinks to children, stopping the sale of sweets and snacks at checkouts and possible calorie caps on popular foods like pizzas.

And Northumberland is among one of a number of local authorities which are looking to use the planning system to limit the number of new fast-food takeaways.

As previously reported, a policy in its draft new Local Plan seeks to stop new outlets being opened in areas where there are already high levels of overweight/obese children or within 400 metres of schools or colleges.

They would also be prohibited in places which already have a large number of takeaways or where it would replace the last convenience shop or pub in a village or parade of shops.

Coun Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community and wellbeing board, said: “We urgently need to take action to tackle child obesity and councils are playing their part, but need more planning powers to help tackle this epidemic, which has made the UK the most obese nation in western Europe.

“Councils appreciate that a flourishing hospitality sector in our towns and cities is good for local economies and where they have introduced restrictions on takeaways are working with businesses to help create healthier menus for their customers.

“Numerous councils have set curbs on new fast food outlets but current legislation means they lack planning powers to tackle the clustering of existing takeaways already open.

“New legislation is needed to empower councils to help drive forward an effective redesign of damaging food environments to help address health inequalities and tackle the obesity crisis, which requires a joined-up approach.”