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Warning for Gloucester's fast food mile as obesity linked to rising number of city takeaways

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 12, 2014

By Nick Webster, health reporter

obesity 1

Rising childood obesity rates in Gloucester has been linked to takeaways in the city

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Health officials have warned about the link between the number of takeaways and rising childhood obesity epidemic.

It comes as within one mile in the city around Eastgate Street, Barton and Tredworth, 27 fast food outlets are open for business.

They are just a short walk from three schools.

The city has 126 outlets offering everything from burgers to pizza. It is an average of 100 people for every takeaway.

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Quedgeley is another area which boasts a glut of places with a chip shop, Indian and Chinese takeaways, a Domino's pizza and Subway in easy access for hundreds of pupils at four nearby schools.

Many more workers are also within easy reach of the fast food that is being blamed on Gloucester’s worsening fat problem.

The British Medical Journal states a direct link between the number of takeaways in a city and obesity. Research showed workers surrounded by takeaways consumed much more than those who aren’t. It is a tough task for councils, balancing promoting new businesses yet protecting community health and welfare.

Quedgeley mum Becky Baker, who has lost four stone and her son Oliver, 12, who has lost two stone since cutting out junk food, insists many parents are unaware of what their children are eating away from home.

“Junk food is so cheap now, it is very easy for children to get hold of,” she said.

“I can give Oliver £1 for a drink and that could be spent on chips or a chicken burger.

“There is a lot of peer pressure on children to do what their friends are doing. A Subway has opened up in Quedgeley and there is also a Domino's Pizza.

“Some children will have a 2,000-calorie pizza, then go home and have a family meal. “It is only when Oliver lost weight that I realised how many other children his age were overweight. It affects their concentration in class as well as their long-term health.”

It is a familiar scene across Britain as youngsters are tempted with cut-price grub after an explosion in the number of fast-food shops clustered around schools and city centres.

Nationally there are on average 23 fast food outlets per secondary school.

Councillor Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for public health and communities at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We know obesity is a growing problem – that’s why it’s one of the five key priorities identified within our Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

“We’re working with all of our partners, including NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and district councils, to help address obesity.

“Measures include the provision of education about healthy lifestyles in school and community-based weight management groups.”

Latest statistics from Public Health England show almost 25 per cent of reception pupils in the county are classed as overweight and almost 10 per cent are obese.

Among Year Six students in Gloucestershire, aged 10 and 11, nearly 33 per cent are overweight and 17.5 per cent are obese, slightly higher than the national average.

Matson and Robinswood were the worst affected areas, with 15.4 per cent of reception aged children obese and almost 27 per cent of children aged 10-11.

Peri Peri Chicken Land has been open for eight years and offers a bargain chicken burger for just 99p.

Its manager, who did not want to be named, said there should be a limit on the number of takeaways in Eastgate Street.

“There are many more open now than when we first opened here,” he said. “We get all sorts of people here at lunchtime from 12pm-4pm and at night.”

Sahin Tuncel has been manager of Kebab Delight for around a year.

“Not all the food we sell is unhealthy, people can eat what they want - it is up to them,” he said.

“But there are already too many takeaways in Eastgate Street, there is not enough customers to go around.

“We have complained to the council, but they don’t listen. Our food is very good quality.”

Mr Tuncel insists some of his healthier food is grilled and offers 100 per cent shoulder of lamb and low fat kebabs.

Planning permission for takeaways is in the hands of the city council.

A spokesman there said: “Dealing with the problems that obesity can cause is certainly on the agenda. We are keen to promote healthy living and lifestyles in all their forms and work with our public health colleagues and other organisations in a variety of ways to achieve this.

“Planning for health and well being will be taken into consideration through the City Plan, we hope to have a draft of that available for the end of the year.”

Within a healthy balanced diet, a man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight.

For a woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories a day.

A boy aged seven requires 1649 calories a day, a girl needs 1530.

A boy aged eight requires 1745 calories a day, a girl needs 1625.

A boy aged nine requires 1840 calories a day, a girl needs 1721.

A boy aged ten requires 2032 calories a day, a girl needs 1936.

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