Hartlepool has one of the highest proportions of fast food outlets to residents in England, new figures reveal.
Public Health England (PHE) has published a report, outlining the number of takeaways and burger bars in local authority areas across the country.
The Planning Committee [has] increased powers to make much more informed decisions about locations of new outlets, for example restricting the amount near schools.Steven Carter
It shows the town has 149 fast food venues - equivalent to 160.5 for every 100,000 residents. Burn Valley Ward has the most, with 26, while Hart has just two.
The report says Hartlepool has the sixth highest proportion of fast food outlets per head of population in the country.
Blackpool, with 325 outlets - the equivalent of 232.2 per 100,000 residents - has the highest proportion, while Burnley, Great Yarmouth, East Linday, in Lincolnshire, and Camden in London also have a higher proportion than Hartlepool.
PHE says the figures show reveal England’s poorest areas are fast food hotspots, with time times 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: “Local authorities need to question whether these fast food hotspots are compatible with their work to help families and young children live healthier lives.
Steven Carter, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner said: “Over the past few years, the council has adopted a multi-agency approach to tackling obesity in the town.
“A new policy was incorporated into the recently-adopted Local Plan, giving the Planning Committee increased powers to make much more informed decisions about locations of new outlets, for example restricting the amount near schools.
“We also continue to work extensively with local takeaway retailers to ensure they are providing appropriate portion sizes, offer water as part of meal deals instead of sugary drinks, and provide information about the fat, sugar and calorie content of items on the menu. This helps individuals to make more considered choices about what they are buying and consuming.
“While it is recognised that this issue is a contributory factor to the wider obesity problem, we hope that by continuing to implement these measures, we will be able to stimulate a more diverse food economy and ensure a wider, healthier range of food options are available to residents across the borough.”