Sunderland has been named in the top 10 for the highest number of takeaways and fast food outlets - as obesity levels grow.
The number of takeaways in the area has increased by three-quarters since 2010, with 105 new eateries opening in the city – making the local authority eighth in the UK for the highest number of takeaways per 100,000 of the population.
The rate of severe obesity among Year 6 children is at a record high, up by more than a third since 2006 to 4.2%, according to Public Health England.
Sunderland City Council has disputed the figures, published today by the BBC from data by the Office of National Statistics, and claims the area is 21st in the country.
It says that, in the five years to May 2018, 18 hot food takeaway planning applications were refused.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Local authorities have a range of powers to create healthier environments, including planning policies to limit the opening of additional fast food outlets close to schools and in areas of over-concentration.
“However, we know these decisions are not always easy for councils, which is why we recently announced our Trailblazer programme to support them to use their powers to best effect.”
Sunderland City Council says it is doing what it can to limit the number of takeaways.
Cabinet member for health and social care, Dr Geoff Walker, said: “Hot food takeaways have become an increasing presence on all high streets in recent years.
“Increased consumption of out-of-home, takeaway meals which are cheap and readily available, are recognised as an important factor in rising levels of obesity.
“This is one of the most significant and complex health challenges facing our city, our region, and our country.
“As a council, and with our public health partners, we are working with schools, families and community groups to promote healthy eating at home and provide healthier food options in our shopping areas.
“In planning terms, the council does, and has, refused planning permissions for hot food takeaways because of their impact on local neighbourhoods.
“Along with other councils, Sunderland is tightening up its regulations on hot food takeaways as part of its draft core strategy.
“This strategy, which outlines how and where our city develops in coming years, will have stricter tests on takeaways and include buffer zones around schools.”