By Lachlan Leeming, Local Government Correspondent
The battle against childhood obesity is being made harder by the sheer number of South London outlets selling “£1 chicken and chips,” a senior medic has said.
Clinical chairman of NHS Greenwich, Dr Krishna Subbarayan, told a meeting of Greenwich council’s health and wellbeing board that the cheap food was preventing London from meeting its health targets.
His comments came as the board discussed the 10-point London Health and Care Vision report, which outlines a city-wide initiative aimed at making London the healthiest international city in the world.
One of the 10 points is the reduction in childhood obesity, a particular issue in Greenwich where, in recent years, rates have exceeded the national average.
Dr Subbarayan said to board members: “Have we mapped how many unhealthy food outlets there are in Greenwich, (and) how close they are to schools? What is the planning approach?
“What is being done because these are ambitious targets (contained in the report).
“It’s so difficult these days, there are so many McDonald’s, chip shops (and) kebabs shops.”
He added that local families were also over-consuming fast food in cases where “a mother or father doesn’t know how to cook very good food,” highlighting the continuing need for education on healthy eating.
Council leader and board member Danny Thorpe highlighted that Greenwich’s last local plan, which dictates where thousands of homes and businesses will be built in the coming years, had initially contained a policy which wouldn’t allow fast food outlets to be built within 400m of a school.
But he said that policy was “chucked out” by the Government inspector during the draft stage due to it being “anti-competitive”.
“The horse has bolted and you’ve got to respond…how can you beat £1 chicken and chips? There’s a challenge for all of us on the prevention side,” he said.
He added the authority was involved with multiple strategies aimed at combating obesity in the borough.
Multiple reports in recent years have highlighted Greenwich’s high rates of childhood obesity, with a November 2018 study stating that roughly 41 per cent of pupils were overweight or obese by the time they started secondary school – compared to the country’s 34 per cent average.
The council has a number of initiatives to tackle obesity in the borough.
Greenwich was also one of the first London boroughs to launch a Jamie Oliver-endorsed Sugar Smart Campaign partnering with schools, businesses, and hospitals to reduce the sugar content in the products they offer.
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