New toolkit delivers healthy takeaways

With obesity levels on the rise in London, a new initiative is tackling the growing health problem by targeting the capital’s takeaways.
Date: 22 October 2014

Over a third of children leaving primary school in the capital are overweight or obese - the highest rate of any major city in the world. Nationally, over a quarter of adults are obese. 

Now, research by London Metropolitan University has led to a new toolkit to encourage takeaways in London’s most deprived areas up their game in the health-stakes.   

“Statistics from the National Obesity Observatory show that deprived areas with higher rates of obesity also face a higher concentration of fast food outlets,” said Sue Bagwell of London Metropolitan University’s Cities Institute.

“The toolkit contains advice for Environmental Health officers to encourage takeaway owners to adopt healthier processes without infringing on their profits. There are lots of little things that can make a real difference, such as introducing saltshakers with five holes instead of the usual seventeen.

“Offering rice or salad with meals instead of chips has also been shown to work well, although this can vary depending on communities.  

“These businesses are working in a very competitive marketplace however, so it is important to approach the problem from their perspective. There are also broader supply chain issues and there is a case for government intervention in certain areas, such as taxes on sugary drinks.

“Ultimately, it’s about making businesses aware of little tips which won’t cost them anything but will be beneficial to the people they serve and may even lead to new customers.” 

The toolkit was launched yesterday at City Hall and will equip Environmental Health officers with the skills and knowledge to encourage healthier food in London’s takeaways.         

“Greatest challenges facing London”

By using case studies, the toolkit highlights how businesses can overcome this challenge and even become more successful as consequence of making their menus healthier.

Rosie Boycott, Chair of the London Food Board, said: “Changing our food environment so that it becomes healthier for all is one of the greatest challenges facing London. 

“This new toolkit is a fantastic resource, which will help businesses wanting to make their food healthier at the same time as maintaining their profitability. I wholeheartedly welcome this latest initiative in the drive to tackle obesity in the capital.” 

Research for the toolkit involved a UK-wide survey of healthier catering initiatives designed to identify best practice and in-depth research with thirty best practice businesses from a range of some of the most deprived areas in London.

  

For more information, contact Sue Bagwell, Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University  
0207 133 4103 
s.bagwell@londonmet.ac.uk

Sample of Case Study Video Clip
Tasty Buds on West Green Road, Tottenham (branded fast food mile by the Sunday Mirror) http://youtu.be/esRmXK_T4jQ.

  

Notes

The Toolkit will be available online after Wednesday 22 October from the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity & Protection (IFSIT) website at www.ifsip.org.

The toolkit is based on research funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council and undertaken by the Cities Institute at London Metropolitan University, in partnership with the Greater London Authority, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), the Association of London Environmental Health Managers and a network of public health officers involved in the London-based Healthier Catering Commitment.

The Cities Institute specialises in research in a wide range of urban policy issues. See www.citiesinstitute.org.

The London Health Commission Global City Comparisons report can be accessed from http://www.londonhealthcommission.org.uk/london-health-commission-global-city-comparison-reveals-obesity-crisis-capital/.

Statistics on obesity are available from www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity.