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Access to Healthy Food

Hot food takeaways

Living within close proximity to fast food takeaway outlets has been associated with rates of obesity and weight gain [1],[2].  Calorie-for-calorie, unhealthy food (typically foods high in fat, sugar and/or salt) costs less than healthy products such as fruits and vegetables[1].  Over half of British adults have experienced an increase in the number of fast food shops on their nearest high street since they started living there.

Planning policies and Development Plan Document (DPD) policies provide good examples of how policies outside of the health sector can have both a direct and indirect impact on the determinants of health.

For example, reducing the concentration and clustering of hot food takeaways within an area, and restricting permission for hot food takeaways within close proximity to schools, will have both direct and indirect health benefits.

Reducing access and consumption of the types of foods sold at hot food takeaways (particularly those containing high levels of trans-fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar) will contribute towards achieving a decline in overweight and obesity levels, and reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.

Useful Links

Public Health England briefings & resources:

PHE's Density of fast food outlets by local authority (October 2016)

PHE's Healthy people, healthy places briefing on obesity and the environment: regulating the growth of fast food outlets.

LGA's Tipping the Scales: Case studies on the use of planning powers to limit hot food takeaways (February 2016)

Useful reports & toolkits:

Feat- Food environment assessment tool (July 2017) CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge have developed the Food environment assessment tool using Ordnance survey data.

Shift: Healthier Fast Food - Mapping the Fast Food Environment in Hackney (May 2017)

The Cities Institute at London Met University has produced a selection of tools encouraging healthier takeaways in low-income communities.

Takeaways Toolkit from the Greater London Authority. Useful information for local authorities developing a response to the health impacts of fast food takeaways.

International report: 

A Tale of Two ObesCities: Comparing responses to childhood obesity in London and New York (2010)

A collaborative report produced by City University of New York and London Metropolitan University.  The report looks at what the two cities (London and New York) can learn from one another about tackling childhood obesity.

Paper from the Healthy Urban Development Unit (HUDU): 

Using the Planning System to Control Hot Food Takeaways

CIEH Foodvision:

CIEH Foodvision - this website acts as an information portal for local authorities as well as community members who want more information about health and wellbeing within their own area.


See what London Boroughs are doing for Healthier Catering. 

There is also information about the London Boroughs Healthier Catering Commitment scheme available from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Regulatory Options

Development control

A local authority can produce local planning policy to refuse consent for any new hot food takeaways in a certain area.

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Planning and licensing

Opening hours for hot food takeaways may be controlled by a condition attached to planning consent. Alternatively a condition may prohibit a takeaway service (where there is an eat-in or delivery service as well) at certain hours.   

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Planning levy - s106

Local authorities may be able to seek a financial contribution as part of a grant of planning permission for hot food takeaway.

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[1] Currie; DellaVigna; Moretti; Pathania. The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity and Weight Gain. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Vol 2, Number 3, August 2010, pp. 32-63(32)

[2] Mehta NK, Chang VW. Weight status and restaurant availability a multilevel analysis. American journal of preventive medicine 2008;34(2):127-33.