I toddled along to Bradford Council's Executive this morning to make a representation about the proposed Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for Hot Food Takeaways. Among other factors (litter, noise, smell, traffic and so forth) the Council intended to restrict the opening of such establishments within 400m of schools, parks and playgrounds. This is in response to concerns about obesity among children.
My presentation made the point that there really isn't any evidence at all to support such policies - the grounds for Bradford's proposal (and the support from Public Health England and the Local Government Association) is one study that found some link between 'body mass index' and the clustering of fast food takeaways among adult commuters. This apparently is "generalisable to children".
The Labour Councillor who leads on these matters took the brazen approach - there's lots of support from the 'health community' so we don't have to discuss the evidence. She went on to tell me that I should agree with her because "Boris Johnson supports these planning policies". As if I should ignore the evidence just because Boris ignores the evidence. So it's clear that (as I expected) the Executive simply rubber-stamped the proposals from planning regardless of the evidence.
However, the unexpected comment came from Bradford's Director of Public Health when she was asked to comment on the evidence. Cllr Cooke is right, she said, there isn't much evidence to support the policy. We need to be looking at poverty not planning regulations.
I guess there is a glimmer of hope!
And to remind you - this is the evidence:
...there was no signiﬁcant association between increasing takeaway and fast food consumption and obesity as measured by BMI corrected for age and gender. This is not a new ﬁnding. For example, French and colleagues found no signiﬁcant relationship between frequent consumption of fast food and being overweight in their analysis of a cohort of 11-18-year-old boys and girls. Similarly, Simmons et al found no correlation between increasing takeaway consumption and obesity measured by either BMI or waist circumference.