Takeaway Islington: 305 fast food outlets and a healthy eating campaign
Local residents are not short of places to buy convenience food but what are the implications for their health?
There are a total of 305 fast food outlets in Islington, according to National Obesity Observatory data from 2013. This means of 325 local authorities, the borough has the 30th highest number in the UK, with 148 fast food outlets for every 100,000 Islington residents.
In 2011 Islington Council vowed to promote healthy eating in the borough through a new £100,000 initiative.
The Hearty Lives Islington campaign is a three year project funded by the British Heart Foundation, which aims to promote healthy food by urging “cafes, restaurants, takeaways and sandwich shops” to “use less salt and saturated fat content” in their foods.
The campaign aims to “tackle some areas relating to heart health” by appointing Environmental Health Officers to local shops, cafes and restaurants to help improve the nutritional content of the food they serve.
The businesses which do successfully apply the required changes to “make their food healthier” will receive “a Healthier Catering Commitment certificate and a door sticker” from the Council and the charity, in an effort to help customers to “recognise the businesses that have shown this commitment”.
Speaking to SJS at the end of last year, Babar Malik, manager of Angel Express, a pizza and kebab shop on St. John Street, said that he had “never heard of the project”, although he welcomed such a scheme.
“I think it is a good idea that the Council wants to make food healthy. I care about what my customers eat so it is good but I haven’t heard of it before today,” he said.
Ji Lee, 47, who has worked in Islington for over three years, said that there was little choice but to eat at takeaway shops in Islington. “I’ve lived here for quite a while and there isn’t that much to choose from so I just go to the café by the market for some hot food.”
A sandwich from café ‘Bliss’ on St. John Street was lunchtime fare for Amie Kay, a 22-year-old student living in Islington: “If I’m feeling really healthy I’ll grab a quick sushi but they are quite pricey so I normally stick to the sandwiches”.
To manage the high number of takeaways and the effect it may be having on Islington residents and their health, Islington Council had previously announced that it will work to limit the number of takeaways around schools.
According to the ‘Child Obesity’ report released by NHS Islington in March 2013, 38% of children aged 10-11 – that is 599 of Year 6 school children – are ‘overweight or obese’ and some 438 children in Reception are classified as ‘overweight or obese’.
In November 2012 the council said it will look to “ban the setting up of new fast-food outlets within 200 metres of a primary or secondary school’ and that it was one of the few London boroughs that has drawn up ‘Supplementary Planning Docs’ to facilitate restriction of “the development of new fast food premises near schools”.
This followed a Mayor of London campaign, the Takeaways Toolkit, which provides guidance to local authorities on how to make local takeaway food healthier. It recommends working with takeaways to ensure that they produce healthier food and reduce the amount of fast food school children have access to at lunch and on their route to and from school.
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