A crackdown on the number of fast food takeaways in Hartlepool is planned to help tackle obesity levels.
Health chiefs say Hartlepool has more hot food outlets than the England average while more than 40% of Year 6 children are classed as overweight or obese – the highest in the region.
Hartlepool Borough Council is spearheading a number of initiatives to help people keep a healthy weight with a 10-year strategy.
The council is proposing to restrict the numbers and size of fast food through its new Local Plan.
At a meeting of Hartlepool’s Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday, Steven Carter, health improvement practitioner, said: “The number of takeaway outlets in town is above the national average, and obviously that does have an impact in terms of people’s access to healthy or unhealthy food options.”
He added: “I think the publication of the policy will go some way to addressing that issue in some areas.
“This will impose restrictions on the amount of space that can be set aside for those types of establishments in certain areas where we know the concentration is already quite high.”
Mr Carter said the more takeaways there are, the more competition there is, making them cheaper for families than eating healthily.
The policy says the authority recognises that takeaways can play an important role in providing jobs and boost to the local economy.
But it adds to make sure there are not too many there will be a total ban in some areas of town and the amount of floorspace will be strictly controlled.
The policy adds: “In a bid to discourage students from purchasing hot food items on their walk home from school, the council may seek to control the operational hours of businesses that are located on key transit routes from students.”
Councillors also raised concerns about advertising of fast food meal deals on buses and tickets.
And Coun Stephen Thomas said there needed to be more work with supermarkets about unhealthy snacks on prominent display.
The board agreed to write to the Co-op specifically raising their concerns.
Hartlepool’s Trading Standards has been working with a number of takeaways in town to try to make their dishes healthier.
Board chairman Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said there needed to be continued investment through the council’s budget to tackle child obesity.