Rise in number of takeaways in Norfolk’s most deprived areas linked to health inequality

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:52 26 July 2017

File photo of a person eating a burger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

File photo of a person eating a burger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Health experts have warned that the fight against rising obesity levels is being lost as parts of Norfolk see the number of takeaways soar.

Deep-fried cod and chips takeaway meal. Photo: Getty ImagesDeep-fried cod and chips takeaway meal. Photo: Getty Images

Health experts have warned that the fight against rising obesity levels is being lost as parts of Norfolk see the number of takeaways soar.

Two of the county’s highest areas of deprivation have seen the number of takeaways rocket, as recorded rates of diabetes also rose.

Norwich and Great Yarmouth were both found to have significantly more takeaways per 1,000 residents than the national average, according to new figures.

Norwich city councillor Kevin Driver, chairman of the planning committee, said he had never been a fan of having takeaways close together, and gave Dereham Road as an example.

“But the problem is you can’t just turn them down because of competition,” he said.

Borough councillor Bernard Williamson, chairman of Great Yarmouth’s development control committee, said he was not surprised Great Yarmouth had a high number of takeaways, and pointed to the holiday trade.

“Some are only open in the holiday season, but some are open all year round,” he said.

“But I haven’t noticed a marked increase in the number of takeaways opening up.”

He said one outlet looking to open in Hemsby was recently denied permission, because it was too close to another.

But he said health concerns were not taken into account when looking at whether to approve an application.

The new findings came from Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (Cedar), and found that nationally takeaways accounted for more than a quarter of all the country’s food outlets.

In Great Yarmouth there were 127 outlets (1.31 per 1,000 people), a 21pc increase in the last three years. In Norwich there were 195 takeaways (1.47 per 1,000 people), an 11pc increase over the same period.

At the same time, between 2013 - 15 some 69pc of adults in Great Yarmouth were classed as overweight or obese, compared to 20.8pc of children in year 6.

Rates of recorded diabetes in the town had also risen, with 6,575 cases.

This represented 7.7pc of people, above the national average 6.4pc.

In Norwich, obesity was below the national average for both children and adults.

And although the rate of diabetes was also lower than the rest of the country.

The number of cases had risen to 6,425 cases, some 4.5pc of people, in recent years.

Elsewhere in the county North Norfolk had slightly more takeaways than average, with 1.1 per 1,000 residents. King’s Lynn and West Norfolk was close to the average. South Norfolk had slightly fewer, while Breckland and Broadland had significantly fewer takeaways than the average.

Nationally obesity causes more than 30,000 deaths a year. Treating obesity costs the NHS £6bn a year, a figure expected to rise £10bn by 2050.

Professor Simon Capewell, vice-president for policy at the UK’s Faculty of Public Health, said: “The junk food and sugary drinks sold by these outlets make an important contribution to the UK epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

“Furthermore, the much greater density of fast food outlets in deprived neighbourhoods exacerbates existing, substantial inequalities in health.”

Since 2010 more than 20 councils in England have introduced planning regulations which aimed to slow down the expansion of takeaways, prompted by health concerns.

But neither Norwich City Council or Great Yarmouth Borough Council seemed to have introduced such regulations.

Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “Despite the health impact of the obesity epidemic being well known, it is shocking that the number of fast food takeaways is increasing.

“Whether it’s the marketing of junk food on billboards and TV, or the proximity of junk food outlets to schools, we know our environment has a huge impact on levels of overweightness and obesity.”

While district councils are responsible for planning, Norfolk County Council looks after public health.

And a spokesman said tackling obesity and encouraging healthy lifestyles continued to be one of their priorities.

They said: “Supporting children and families to stay healthier will help reduce the risk of life threatening diseases – from heart disease and stroke, to cancer and type 2 diabetes as well as other problems like social isolation and inequality.”

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