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Motion to fight child obesity passed

Lancashire County Council is set to write to district councils urging them to support its new guidelines for fast food takeaway applications.

The move follows a notice of motion by County Councillor Charlie Edwards, which was put forward at full council on Thursday 19 July.

Research shows that people’s environment has a major effect on their health and issues such as the number of takeaways have a direct effect on obesity levels in communities.

Over 63% of Lancashire’s population is overweight or obese, which is higher than the national average. This suggests there are over 606,000 adults in Lancashire living with an excess weight problem.

The National Child Measurement Programme (2016/17) found that 23.5% of reception year children and 18.9% of year 6 children, a total of 7,262, were either overweight or obese.

The county council guidelines set out that district councils should establish 400m takeaway restriction zones around secondary schools and refuse applications for new takeaways in wards where 15% of year six children or 10% of reception children are classed as obese.

Applications should also be refused to prevent clustering of too many takeaways in less-affluent areas.

County Councillor Edwards, lead member for health and adult services, said: “More than 63% of adults and over 23% of reception schoolchildren in Lancashire are classed as overweight or obese. This is significantly higher than the national average.

“Nearly half of Lancashire’s fast food outlets fall within wards ranked amongst the 20% most deprived in the country and research clearly demonstrates the link between clusters of fast food outlets and the number of people classed as overweight or obese in an area.

“Our public health team has researched best practice from across the United Kingdom to come up with a potential proposal to help address this. These takeaway guidelines will ensure that school children and those living in communities where obesity rates are higher aren’t faced with more fast food options.

“We’ll be writing to our colleagues in district councils, encouraging them to consider adopting these guidelines when making planning decisions on fast food outlets.

“This is part of a wide range of projects and programmes that our Public Health team have put together to help ensure that all of our residents are healthy, wealthy and have every opportunity in life to be the best they can be.”

In addition to the planning guidelines, the county council aims to tackle obesity through its Active Lives and Healthy Weight Scheme, which is run by leisure providers across the county.

It runs activities such as Your Mile Your Way to encourage people to become more physically active and support schools to encourage pupils to take part in exercise.

Schools programmes include the Mile a Day scheme where children are encouraged to run or walk for a mile each day during school time where appropriate.

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