New takeaways could be banned near schools

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM could become the first area in Wales to ban fast food outlets being opened close to schools and colleges.

Most schools in the county borough already have a takeaway close to them.

But, in a bid to cut down on the number of overweight youngsters, the council could bring in a measure to prevent new hot food outlets gaining planning permission within 400 metres of a school or tertiary college.

The planning guidance, as it is known, is likely to be considered by the planning committee next month and the executive board in July.

A recent pilot scheme by Public Health Wales to measure childhood weights and heights in Wrexham primary came up with shock statistic that about one in four pupils in year four – eight and nine year olds – is overweight or obese.

The council has introduced a number of schemes to combat the problem, including improvements to dining areas and healthier menus, which have resulted in an increased uptake of school meals.

The new guidance, which is currently out for consultation, aims to take this even further by persuading young people to eat in school at lunchtime by taking away the temptation for them to visit a nearby fast food outlet.

If it is given the go-ahead by councillors Wrexham will be the first local authority in Wales to have such a restriction in place.

A council spokesman said: “The fact that one in four children in year four is overweight or obese is a shocking figure. The guidance being proposed would put an exclusion zone for hot food takeaways of 400 metres around schools and colleges.

“We hope this would take away the temptation and ease for pupils and students to pop out for chips at lunchtime.

“This is just a small part of a very big plan to tackle the affects of obesity in Wrexham.”

The Welsh Health Survey of 2009 found that 56 per cent of men and 49 per cent of women – that over half the total population of the county borough – are either overweight or obese.

The spokesman added: “An obese adolescent is likely to remain so during adulthood, which may lead to associated medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease in later life.

“Research shows that children attending schools near fast food outlets are more likely to obese.

“In the county borough nearly 60 per cent of schools are located near to hot food takeaways.”

In Wrexham, primary-age children are not allowed to leave the premises during the school day while it is up to individual secondary schools whether they allow pupils out.

Although healthier options such as salads, pastas and baked potatoes are also available, school menus still include chips, burgers and sausages.

See full story in the Leader

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