Public health bosses are talking with councils about new controls to stop new takeaway restaurants opening near schools.
Seventeen per cent of Year Six pupils in the county are obese and health officials are looking at what powers councils have to enforce good eating habits.
Among the measures being considered are allowing council planning committees to deny applications to open fast food shops within walking distance of schools.
Robin Brown, chair of the county’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said he backed the principle. He said: “I know other local authorities have the same policies so it is something that is quite possible.
“Akeem Ali, our director of public health, is talking to the borough and district council chief executives about what they can do to support these ideas.
“Local authorities have quite a lot of influence on health and, for example, can determine how many kebab shops there can be in a certain area.
“I don’t think the overall idea is to stop children walking to shops in their lunch breaks, it’s more about educating children about what is and isn’t healthy.”
Planners at the London Borough of Waltham Forest decided not to give planning permission to new hot food takeaways if they were 400 metres or less from a school or other facility aimed at children.
The policy aimed to limit the chances young people have to eat ‘fast food’, thus reducing childhood obesity.
A small reduction in child obesity was noted, although a link to the policy was never proved.
The report by consultants paid by Northamptonshire County Council also recommended:
– Ensuring publicly-funded venues provide healthier options
– Encouraging venues frequented by children and supported by public money to resist sponsorship or product placement from companies associated with foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
Consultants also found that:
– Almost one in 10 children in Northamptonshire was obese when they started school, and nearly a quarter were obese – when weight harms their health – or overweight.
– By age 11, more than one in six children was obese and a third were overweight or obese.