SOUTHEND has the highest concentration of fast food restaurants including chip shops, burger bars and pizza places in Essex – according to new figures linking their positioning to some of the most deprived communities.
According to Public Heath England, Southend has 198 fast food outlets – 109.6 outlets for every 100,000 people who live there.
It also has one of the highest levels of childhood obesity, with 16.5 per cent of children classified as obese in 2017.
The PHE takeaway figures showed a variation in the number of fast food outlets in wards across the east of England, ranging from 25.7 per 100,000 residents in Rochford to 165.7 per 100,000 population in Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk and suggests fast food outlets account for more than a quarter of all eateries in England.
Tendring has 96.3 outlets per 100,000 people, Castle Point 94.7, Maldon, 89.9, Thurrock 89.7, Basildon 89.2 and Brentwood 88.6.
Brentwood saw 13.5 per cent of Year 6 children classified as obese, 18.4 per cent of Year 6 children iin Basildon and 20.2 per cent of Year 6 children in Maldon.
Harlow has 87.3 outlets per 100,000, Braintree 72.7, Colchester 71.4 and Chelmsford 67.2 per cent – in Chelmsford 16.1 per cent of children are classified as obese.
Uttlesford, Epping Forest and Rochford have the lowest concenrations of fast food outlets in the county – with 66.1, 52.3 and 25.7 outlets per 100,000 people respectively.
PHE East is actively working with partners to address the situation and recently hosted an event to look at how local authorities can work with businesses to create a healthier environment.
PHE’s Healthy High Streets publication which provides a blueprint for healthy place making in urban settings was one of key themes of the day.
Dr Simon How, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead, 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.
“Local authorities have the power to shape our environment and influence us to make healthier decisions, which is why we are calling for them to restrict fast food outlets 400 metres from where children gather – this includes schools, community centres, parks, playgrounds and other open spaces – as a way to tackle childhood obesity.
“It was really encouraging to see so many of our local authority public health and planning colleagues join us at our Planning for Health event, where the aim was to share ideas and explore how PHE, local authorities and developers can work together to improve the health and wellbeing of our local communities.”