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Takeaways grow in number in Havering despite anti-obesity push

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 October 2018

Fast food restaurants have proliferated in Havering.

Fast food restaurants have proliferated in Havering.

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Havering now has more takeaways per person than the national average.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), analysed by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, show that the borough has 62 takeaways per 100,000 people, just exceeding the national average of 61.

This means the number of fast food joints is also expanding faster than the speed at which the borough’s population is growing – ballooning from 51 outlets in 2010 to the 62 this year.

In real terms, the total number of takeaways has increased from 120 in 2010 to 160 this year – which means they now make up 40pc of all eateries in Havering.

While the number of unlicensed restaurants and cafes (those where alcohol is not offered) in Havering has more than doubled from 55 in 2010 to 125 in 2018.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Heath England (PHE), said: “Many councils are challenged with striking the balance between a vibrant high street and a healthy one.

“However, it’s difficult to make healthier choices when our neighbourhoods are saturated with takeaways, restaurants and cafes.

“Everyone has a role in tackling obesity.

“Councils can help address the growth of fast food outlets and we’re working with the food and drink industry to make everyday products healthier.”

Two thirds of adults aged 16 or over in the borough are classified as overweight or obese, higher than the UK and London average, according to the council’s 2016 prevention of obesity needs assessment.

The same report states that the prevalence of obesity among children in reception is 10.4pc, higher than the national average (9.3pc) and across the capital (10.3pc).

The proportion of adults eating their recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables in Havering (52.9pc) is slightly lower than the national average (53.5pc).

PHE said there is strong evidence linking the density of fast food outlets to the level of deprivation in a community.

In June, it released figures showing the distribution of fast food restaurants across the borough, broken down according to 2016 ward boundaries.

Romford Town tops the board with 43 outlets, with St Andrew’s and Upminster trailing in second and third with 19 and 16 respectively.

Conversely, Cranham, Pettits and Havering Park have the joint least number of takeaways with five each.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Local authorities have a range of powers to create healthier environments, including planning policies to limit the opening of additional fast food outlets close to schools and in areas of over-concentration.

“However, we know these decisions are not always easy for councils, which is why we recently announced our Trailblazer programme to support them to use their powers to best effect.

“We are also consulting on introducing calorie labelling for takeaway menus and other outlets including restaurants, to help families make more informed decisions about their food when eating out or getting a takeaway.”

Conservative Cllr Jason Frost, cabinet member for health, told the Recorder about a slew of policies the council hopes to introduce to curb the takeaway takeover.

He said: “Our draft local plan outlines measures to restrict the growth of new fast food outlets.

“Work is also under way to launch a scheme that will provide support to existing outlets to switch to healthier ingredients, products and cooking practices.

He also spoke of the council’s interactive Veggie Run app, which aims to tackle the issue by promoting healthy eating in primary and junior schools.

He added: “Tackling obesity is a priority for Havering.

“Our prevention of obesity strategy highlights the importance of taking action to make healthy eating an easier choice for people who live and work in the borough.

“As a local authority, we have a responsibility to protect people from the spread of fast food outlets, whilst supporting businesses to improve the choice of healthy food they offer.

Do you think the council is doing enough to curb the rise of takeaways?

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