Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, in a bid to tackle childhood obesity and its related health problems, has announced a ban on new fast-food outlets being located within 400m of existing or proposed primary and secondary schools. The Mayor’s office has said that currently a quarter of fast-food outlets are within five minutes of schools.
In addition, the Mayor is proposing that when planning permission is granted to fast-food outlets, that they be required to sign up to the Healthier Catering Commitment for London. This is a scheme that recognises businesses in London that demonstrate a commitment to providing their customers with a healthier option by reducing saturated fat, salt and sugar in their dishes.
This ban is much-needed in London where there are 8,000 fast-food outlets throughout London with 2,000 of these being within five minutes of schools. This gives children quick and easy access to unhealthy foods, that are very cheap. The Mayor’s office said that just one of these meals contains 60% of our recommended daily calorie intake, half of our recommended salt and saturated fat intake and no fruits and vegetables.
We know that many school children consume the unhealthy meals prepared by these outlets every day contributing to the childhood obesity crisis.
In London, a staggering 40% of children are overweight or obese when they finish primary school. This puts them at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a number of other diseases.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:
“Takeaway restaurants are a vibrant part of London life, but it’s important that they are not encouraging our children to make poor food choices.
“I am working hard to create a healthier London and this must start with the food that our children eat. As promised in my manifesto, I am using all of my powers through my new London Plan to prevent new takeaways from being built just down the road from schools as part of a package of measures to tackle the ticking time bomb of childhood obesity and help us all lead healthier lives.”
This scheme is very promising and if successful should ensure that we improve young Londoner’s health. There is also a need to ensure that existing fast-food outlets are targeted so that the 8,000 outlets in London play their role in improving the health of Londoners.