Planning law 'must stem fast food tide'

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Fast food

Fast food outlets are feeding the obesity epidemic, says Abbott
Fast food outlets are feeding the obesity epidemic, says Abbott
Shadow minister for public health Diane Abbott has called for tougher local planning controls to restrict the proliferation of fast food outlets in poor inner city areas. She says the outlets are feeding the obesity epidemic afflicting the nation.

Abbott wants planning powers to be bolstered to permit local authorities to take public health into account when considering applications. "Local councils ought to be allowed to take public health considerations into account when they are dealing with planning and allowing shops to open,"​ she said.

Abbott is critical of the government for opposing changes to legislation, which would allow local authorities to restrict the number of fast food outlets and shops selling alcohol in their areas. She expressed particular concern about the number of fast food outlets that have opened close to schools. "I'm not sure they should be allowed to do that,"​ she said.

"There are too many parts of our inner cities where it is quite hard to get fresh foods," said Abbott, who is MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in London. "Children live off chicken and chips; they don't get enough fresh vegetables and fruit. Why do you need five chicken and chips shops on one parade of shops?"

Abbott also called for action to force catering outlets to provide better information about the nutritional content of the food and drink they serve. "Although supermarkets have gone some way towards introducing labelling, if you go into a cafeteria or restaurant, food isn't labelled at all. I think foodservice should do more," she said. "Particularly now ,when many mothers work, people do eat out much more. Foodservice could do a lot more and the government could do a lot more to make them."

Abbott also echoed the criticism of government made by chef Jamie Oliver regarding the work done over the past few years to improve the nutritional balance of school dinners. "They are going backwards when it comes to nutritional school dinners,"​ she claimed.

See feature on p16.

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