FOOD SERVICES | Staff Reporter, UK

London Mayor says no to takeaways within 400m of schools

Sadiq Khan wants to tackle childhood obesity by cracking down on new hot food takeaways near schools.

The draft London Plan – the capital’s overall planning strategy – says that new takeaways should not be permitted within 400 metres walking distance of an existing or proposed primary or secondary school. A quarter of the UK’s takeaways are located within a five minute walk of a school.

New takeaways will be required to sign up to the Healthier Catering Commitment, a scheme supported by the Mayor and promoted by local authorities to help caterers and food businesses make simple, healthy improvements to their food such as grilling or baking instead of frying and adding less salt.

Currently, almost 40 percent of children in London are overweight or obese when they finish primary school, the highest proportion in England. Through his Health Inequality Strategy, the Mayor is working towards a reduction in childhood obesity rates.

Health experts support the Mayor’s recommendation to restrict the proliferation of takeaway shops, particularly around schools, in order to help create a healthier food environment.

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.”

The Mayor’s Healthy Schools London programme is already supporting almost 2,000 schools to promote healthy eating and supporting them to provide pupils with nutritious and balanced meals. Tackling childhood obesity is a core focus of his health inequalities strategy, calling on all parts of London – businesses, the NHS and London’s boroughs– to help make London the world’s healthiest city for children to grow up in.

Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board, said, “It’s great to see changes being introduced to how takeaways operate. There are some areas of the capital with up to 40 fast food outlets within half a mile of schools, enticing children by reducing costs at the same time as they are leaving school. By encouraging existing takeaways to switch to healthier options and cracking down on new takeaways near schools, we can start to tackle the damage being done to our children’s health.”

Clea Harris, chair of the London Healthier Catering Commitment Group, said, “It is important that school children should be able to access healthier food options in the food businesses that surround their schools. The introduction of the Healthier Catering Commitment in these premises will ensure that a healthier selection of food and drink is available so that young people can make a choice which reflects current healthy eating messages." 

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