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Blog - Fast food outlets and obesity

Today Public Health England has released data showing the levels of fast food outlets by population. Showing which areas have the most outlets per head. 

Densely populated cities are leading the national tables as you would expect but here in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we are in the top 15 in the South West region. Cornwall is in eleventh place while the Isles of Scilly is in at number nine. 

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In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we rely heavily on and celebrate the tourism industry and as a result it means that we have a higher than average number of food outlets. 

High levels of obesity are often seen in areas with greater social inequalities, and it’s these areas that often have a higher proportion of fast food outlets. In those areas food choices are harder, and it’s a common perception that it’s often more difficult to produce healthy food on a budget. Less nutritious food is often cheaper to buy and easier to cook than healthier alternatives. It’s also often a luxury for some families to pay for their children to take part in additional sporting or physical activities. 

Here in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly the Wellbeing and Public Health service are adopting a way of working which involves all of our partners and stakeholders to tackle the issue together along with the food industry to make it easier for people to make healthier choices when eating out. 

We are supporting the SUGAR SMART campaign to reduce the sugar consumed in our daily diets. In a recent survey in Cornwall 85% of people were worried about the amount of sugar in the food and drink they eat, and a staggering 98% of people said that it’s important to have healthy food and drinks options available when eating out. 

As part of the strategy we plan to scope the possibility of regulating food outlets near schools and a healthy catering award which will complement our SUGAR SMART work. 

We have an accreditation programme across Cornwall through our Food in Schools service. 

Cornwall Council’s Healthy Cornwall service (formerly Health Promotion Service) provide weight management programmes which are open to all residents in Cornwall who want support and advice for free on getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. There are dedicated programmes for children and their families, and these are also targeted into areas where we see greater inequalities. If you’d like some support to eat more healthily then visit the Healthy Cornwall website or call 01209 615600. 

Being a healthy weight is not just about a good diet, being more active is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We have a target to get 50,000 people more active by 2020, and have projects being delivered by Cornwall Sports Partnership to help get children more active such as the annual school games and encouraging schools to take part in the Daily Mile Challenge. If you want some ideas on how to be more active or to find a new class or activity near you visit Cornwall Sports Partnership Get Active Cornwall website.

The Council, Public Health and the Cornwall Sports Partnership are working with public, private and voluntary sector partners to coordinate the plans over the next three years. A programme of significant investment is underway to improve built environments to encourage active lifestyles including a better transport system and upgraded leisure facilities. This approach has started to work together with a number of communities in Cornwall to understand and tackle the stubborn challenge of inactivity including local schools and colleges, employers, leisure and healthcare providers and voluntary groups. 

“I spent many years working as a GP and as a doctor in A&E where much of my time was spent patching people up, partly because of their lifestyle choices around smoking, drinking and poor diet and partly because of circumstances such as poor housing or social isolation. I made the move into Public Health where the focus is on preventing ill health rather than treating it, because I care deeply about giving everyone the opportunity for a healthy life.”

Dr Caroline Court, Interim Director of Wellbeing and Public Health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.