Councils to ban takeaways near schools

Since the healthy eating message still isn't getting through to many, councils across the country are now hoping that a landmark ruling may help to curb the rise in teenage obesity. Councils will now be able to ban junk food outlets from operating near schools.

Teenage boy eating a burger
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This summer a judge ruled that Tower Hamlets Council in East London had "acted unlawfully" by allowing "Fried & Fabulous" to open 500 yards from a secondary school.

And the ruling has cleared the way for councils across the UK to take the health and well-being of schoolchildren into account when considering planning applications.

In a recent survey, more than half of the 50 councils polled said they had already revised their planning policies to include a junk food "exclusion zone" near schools.

Waltham Forest Council in East London, set their exclusion zone at 400 metres around schools, leisure centres and parks and dozens of other local authorities look set to do the same.

School food campaigners welcomed the measures, particularly in light of the fact that a sizeable 18.3 per cent of 10- to 11-year-olds are now obese.

After Jamie Oliver highlighted the shocking food that was being served in Britain's school canteens, many have introduced a healthier menu. But the presence of pizza joints and fast food outlets so close to schools has undermined the move.

However, recent research suggests that curbing teenage obesity won't be quite so easy, exclusion zone or not.

The School Food Trust recently found that the average secondary school is surrounded by 23 junk foot outlets and in some cases, that figure was 46.

And a further study by London Metropolitan University discovered that some youngsters are visiting takeaways or convenience stores more than once a day.

The report stated: "Over a quarter of the purchases we observed were in response to special offers - percentage discounts, buy-one-get-one-free, multi-buys, child prices.

"Pupils sometimes pooled funds to take advantage of these incentives, sharing out food later."

So while the junk food exclusion zone is a step in the right direction, the big question is, how far are teenagers prepared to go for their junk food fix?

What do you think? Will the exclusion zone solve the problem or is it a more deep-rooted issue? Leave your comments below...