New figures released by Public Health England have shown Doncaster to have the highest concentration of fast food outlets per capita than anywhere else in South Yorkshire.
The new figures show higher concentrations of fast food shops in England’s most deprived communities.
It shows Doncaster has 377 fast food outlets and the rate per 100,000 of the population is 122.7.
This is the highest density per 100,000 of the population in the region beating Barnsley at 119.5, Rotherham at 110.6 and Sheffield at 119.3.
Public Health England is encouraging local authorities to consider restricting the number of these outlets – including near schools, parks and other areas where children gather.
The Public Health England (PHE) figures show the country’s poorest areas are fast food hotspots, with around a third of outlets – including chip shops, burger bars and pizza places – found in the most deprived communities.
The data also suggests fast food outlets account for more than a quarter (26 percent) of all eateries in England.
The report also says local environment has a major influence on our behaviours and streets crowded with fast food outlets can influence our food choices – many of these currently have no or little nutrition information in-store. Children exposed to these outlets, whether out with friends or on their way home from school, may find it more difficult to choose healthier options.
Many local authorities across England have taken action to address their food environment and PHE is encouraging them to learn from each other.
At least 40 areas across England have developed policies to restrict the growth of new takeaways and fast food outlets, and PHE has helped develop stronger planning guidance to support other areas in doing this.
While not all fast food is unhealthy, it is typically higher in salt, calories and saturated fat, all of which can cause serious health problems when consumed too often and in large quantities. Children with excess weight are consuming up to 500 extra calories per day, so creating healthier environments could play an important role in tackling obesity and health inequalities.
More than a third of children in England are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school – this figure is even higher in some deprived communities. This increases their risk of being overweight or obese adults and suffering preventable diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Corinne Harvey, from Public Health England in Yorkshire and The Humber, said: “It’s not surprising some children find it difficult to resist the lure of fast food outlets when many neighbourhoods are saturated with them.
“Local authorities have the power to help shape our environment and support people in making healthier choices. and it’s great to see councils in our area taking action.”
Food outlets can make a contribution to our high streets. However, with the impact of obesity on local authority social care budgets estimated at £352 million per year, encouraging healthier choices can make a positive difference.
As part of its work to improve the local food environment, PHE supports local authorities’ work with small businesses to provide healthier options. This can be through using less salt, sugar and saturated fat in their products, as well as offering customers smaller portions and promoting healthier alternatives. Some areas have healthy catering schemes to recognise and support local retailers who are making such changes.
As part of its One You campaign, PHE has also helped consumers find healthier options by partnering with major high street retailers, where millions of people buy their food every day.