Obesity experts call for crack down on eating out sector

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Two reports have called for tougher measures to control the spread of fast food outlets
Two reports have called for tougher measures to control the spread of fast food outlets

Related tags: Fast food outlets, Boris johnson

Health experts have called for tough new pressures on fast food outlets and restaurant chains to tackle the obesity epidemic in the UK.

The London Health Commission is expected to call for a ban on fast food outlets close to schools and the adoption of traffic light labelling by restaurant chains when it publishes its recommendations on tackling obesity later this week.

A separate report published by social enterprise 2020health has called for fast food outlets to be licensed like pubs.

Fast food exclusion zones

The London Health Commission, which is led by NHS surgeon and former Labour minister Lord Darzi, was set up by London Mayor Boris Johnson last year to investigate the capital’s “obesity emergency”.

The commission is due to publish its recommendations on tackling the problem on Wednesday and according to the Evening Standard​, which has seen extracts of the report, proposals will include greater powers for borough councils to ban fast food takeaways from opening within 400m of schools.

The new rules would switch the burden of proof during planning applications, requiring restaurants to prove they would not pose a health risk and allowing councils to set up “exclusion zones”.

The commission will also propose a requirement for all restaurants with at least 15 outlets in the UK to display traffic light warnings about the levels of sugar, fat and salt in their food, the Evening Standard​ said.

Call for licensing

Meanwhile the ‘Careless Eating Costs Lives’ report, published by 2020health yesterday, called for licensing measures to limit the number of fast food outlets in any given area in the UK.

The report, which was funded by AB Sugar, said there was evidence of a direct correlation between the number of high density fast food outlets in a neighbourhood and obesity levels among residents.

“A licensing procedure should be introduced to control the location of fast food outlets in a local community,” it said

“As part of this licensing procedure, a health impact and assessment should be made a core component of the development process for town planning. “

Other recommendations in the report included a review of the potential social and economic impact of a hypothecated tax on unhealthy foods and the establishment of a cross departmental permanent government task force on obesity. 

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