Ministers urged to ban fast food outlets from opening near schools

Posted on: 2018-04-23 08:00:00

Fast food outlets should be banned from opening within 400 metres of schools in England, according to leading child doctors.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health urged the government to introduce the measure as part of its updated childhood obesity strategy, published this summer.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has suggested a ban on any new fast food outlets being built within such distance and the college called for this to be extended across the UK.

Prof Russell Viner, the president of the college, said ministers should “take a leap of faith” and introduce the measures to make it easier for councils to keep junk food away from students.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said: “Kids are coming out of school hungry and finding themselves surrounded by cheap chicken shops, chip shops and other types of junk food. This just wasn’t the case 20 or 30 years ago.

“People tend to eat what’s in front of them and we need to make it easier for children to make the right choices.”

Viner said local authorities needed increased powers to make it easier to bring in such bans. A number of councils have introduced these measures, but others said they faced too much red tape.

It comes as data shows that almost a third of children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.

In May, the Commons health and social care committee will open hearings for an inquiry on childhood obesity, examining areas that they should take action.

The college also proposed that there be a national programme to weigh and measure children from birth through to their teenage years. It called for GPs to be given training in how to talk to parents about children who gain weight.

“We need to be prepared to have difficult conversations and to make every contact [with health services] count in the fight against obesity,” Viner said.

He added: “We have to take a leap of faith to protect current and future generations.”

Source: The Guardian

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