Rise in fast food outlets is fuelling obesity

The number of fast food restaurants in England has increased by 4,000 in the past three years, according to new data released by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (Cedar).

The figures, released to the Guardian, show that there are now 56,638 takeaways in the country – up 8% compared to 2014. Around 20 councils have been trying to restrict the number of takeaways in a bid to tackle obesity, but Cedar’s research has raised concerns that the tactics are not working.

The data has been taken from Cedar’s new Food Environment Assessment Tool (Feat), which maps, measures and monitors access to food outlets at a neighbourhood level. Feat includes local takeaways plus well-known high street brands like KFC, McDonald’s and Greggs.

An analysis by the Guardian showed that the poorest areas of the country have disproportionately higher numbers of fast food outlets.

“The junk food and sugary drinks sold by these outlets make an important contribution to the UK epidemic of obesity and diabetes,” said Professor Simon Capewell, vice-president for policy at the UK’s Faculty of Public Health. The much greater density of fast food outlets in deprived neighbourhoods also exacerbates existing, substantial inequalities in health, he added. “These trends are very worrying.”

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