Crack down on takeaways in bid to tackle South Tyneside’s £50m obesity problem

Obesity is a growing problem.
Obesity is a growing problem.

AN action plan is being drawn up to control the increasing number of takeaways in South Tyneside, using the planning process to tackle the borough’s £50m-a-year bill for obesity.

The move comes after research revealing particularly high levels of takeaway numbers in areas of the highest deprivation, including the Simonside, Rekendyke and Riverside areas of South Shields.

We cannot establish a direct link between HFTs and obesity, but the prevalence of obesity in South Tyneside is not something we can ignore and appropriate measures should be undertaken to help address this issue.

George Mansbridge, South Tyneside Council’s head of development services

Research also found clusters of hot food units in around the vicinity of borough schools.

South Tyneside Council believes tougher planning powers are needed to block applications for new takeaways as part of efforts to reduce dependence on junk foods, particularly among the young, and thus cut the borough’s mammoth NHS obesity bill.

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Coun Moira Smith, the council’s lead member for public health and wellbeing, said: “This document highlights that planning can play a key role in the wider partnership strategy to tackle unhealthy weight.

“It is seeking to put measures in place to restrict the proliferation of hot food outlets.

“Officers from planning, environmental health and public health will be working with local residents and businesses to develop this policy further, which has been endorsed by the council’s health and wellbeing board.”

It is proposed that the council develops a local draft plan policy to control the location of new takeaways by establishing number limits in town centres, district centres and neighbourhood shopping centres.

Figures for 2013 show that almost a third of the borough’s adult population are deemed to be obese, and 38 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds are also considered overweight.

The measures are also needed to improve the borough’s retail vitality, with takeaway numbers growing compared to other shop units.

There are currently 149 hot-food takeaways (HFTs) and sandwich shops in South Tyneside, compared to just 88 in 2009,

But as 200 of the borough’s 1,403 retail units are vacant, it means they account for nine per cent of all our retail units.

In a report to the council’s health and wellbeing board, George Mansbridge, the authority’s head of development services, says: “It is evident that South Tyneside has a high prevalence of obesity and an increasing number of HFTs, particularly in deprived areas of the borough.

“We cannot establish a direct link between HFTs and obesity, but the prevalence of obesity in South Tyneside is not something we can ignore and appropriate measures should be undertaken to help address this issue.”

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