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A plant-based dietitian has ‘applauded’ London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision not to allow new fast-food restaurants to open within 400 meters (one-quarter mile) of London schools.
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., Director of Nutrition Education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told PBN: “As a dietitian, I applaud Mayor Khan for his leadership in the fight against childhood obesity.”
Khan will also require all new chicken, fish and chip, and pizza outlets to sign up to minimum healthy food standards before opening near schools, in a bid to address the capital’s child obesity epidemic.
The new health standard will call for takeaway shops to make food healthier by grilling or baking instead of frying – and using less salt.
Levin explained: “About 20 percent of UK children struggle with obesity by the time they finish primary school, putting them at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer later in life.
“Allowing fast-food restaurants – who aggressively market artery-clogging burgers and greasy chicken nuggets to children – to open their doors just steps away from schools would undermine the work of educators who teach children to make healthful choices.
“Hopefully Mayor Khan will take the initiative a step further and not only teach students about the dangers of unhealthy foods, but also about the many health benefits of filling their plates with fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.”
‘Ticking time bomb’
According to Khan, the policy will tackle the ‘ticking time bomb’ of childhood obesity in London, which sees almost 40 percent of children obese or overweight by the time they finish primary school.
“Takeaway restaurants are a vibrant part of London life, but it’s important that they are not encouraging our children to make poor food choices,” the Mayor told news outlet Evening Standard.
“I am using all of my powers through my new London Plan to prevent new takeaways from being built just down the road from schools as part of a package of measures to tackle the ticking time bomb of childhood obesity and help us all lead healthier lives.”
The Mayor will make the announcement later this week in his draft of the ‘London Plan’, which will also commit to protect the greenbelt.
Dr. Yvonne Doyle, London regional director at Public Health England said: “Our high streets are increasingly saturated with takeaways and our school children consume too much unhealthy food and drink on the high streets near schools.
“This plan will encourage a healthier food environment around our schools so that junk food is no longer the option for children nearest the school gates.”
London boroughs including Barking and Dagenham, Islington and Waltham already have systems in place that control chicken and chip shops, as well as takeaways near schools.