Sunderland has more than one fast food outlet for every 1,000 residents, new figures reveal.
Public Health England (PHE) has published a new report, outlining the number of takeaways and burger bars in local authority areas across the country.
Increased consumption of out-of-home take-away meals, which are cheap and readily available, have been identified as an important factor in rising levels of obesity which is one of the most significant and complex health challenges facing this country.Dr Geoffrey Walker
It shows the city has 382 fast food venues - 137.8 for every 100,000 residents. Millfield Ward has the most, with 35, while Washington South has just two.
PHE says the figures show reveal England’s poorest areas are fast food hotspots, with more outlets in these communities than in the most affluent.
The data also suggests fast food outlets account for more than a quarter (26%) of all eateries in England.
At least 40 areas 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.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, 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 need to question whether these fast food hotspots are compatible with their work to help families and young children live healthier lives.
Sunderland Liberal Democrats have highlighted the number of takeaways on one city shopping street - St Luke’s Terrace in Pallion.
Councillors Martin Haswell and George Smith want to see the street given specific protection in the city’s local plan which governs planning in Sunderland for the next 15-20 years.
“Local residents and traders want better shopping facilities and the power to say no to any more takeaways,” said Coun Smith.
Sunderland City Council cabinet member for health and social care Coun Dr Geoffrey Walker said the authority is committed to tackling the rise in the number of takeaways across Wearside.
“Fast food outlets have become an increasing presence on high streets across the country over the years,” he said.
“Increased consumption of out-of-home take-away meals, which are cheap and readily available, have been identified as an important factor in rising levels of obesity, which is one of the most significant and complex health challenges facing this country.
“One of the key components to tackling this at local level in Sunderland is working with schools, families and community groups to promote healthy eating at home and provide healthier food options in our shopping areas.
“Local authorities, through a wide range of their functions, are well placed to take action to combat obesity.
“One of the ways in which planning can have the greatest impact on health, and in particular obesity levels, is to restrict the opening of new hot food takeaways, in certain areas.
“Sunderland City Council is in the process of preparing a new Local Plan, which includes a policy to limit the opening of new hot food takeaways within the city, in order to improve the vitality and viability of its main shopping areas and promote the health of the city’s residents.
“Consultation on the publication draft of the core strategy and development plan, which includes this policy, continues until 27 July.”