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Boris Johnson backs Croydon's war on obesity

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BORIS Johnson has backed the borough's war against obesity by throwing his weight behind a "toolkit" being issued to Croydon Council to target the soaring number of fast-food outlets and boost healthy options.

The Mayor of London's intervention comes after new figures showing Croydon is among the top ten London boroughs with the highest concentration of takeaways – every seven in 100 shops are fast-food outlets.

Health chiefs at the council will this week receive what Mr Johnson suggests is long-overdue guidance, including a raft of suggestions for fighting the flab and reducing the strain it places on local health services.

The 58-page Takeaways Toolkit, published by the London Food Board in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, suggests everything from curbing the number of fast-food outlets to introducing healthy "grab and go" options in schools.

Mr Johnson said: "As a city, as a nation, we are getting fatter. Just over a third of 10 and 11-year-olds are overweight or obese, with numbers rising all the time, contributing to a problem that costs the NHS as much as £4 billion annually.

"We enjoy fast food, whiletakeaway businesses contribute to local economies. This guide shows how councils can manage the proliferation of takeaways across the capital but also how, by working with businesses as well as schools, we can all be served up much healthier tucker."

The guidance comes after the Advertiser's Fast Food Croydon series earlier this year, which revealed that the borough's most obese wards are the ones with the highest concentration of takeaways and deprivation.

One of the toolkit's suggestions encourages local authorities to work directly with fast-food bosses to cut saturated fats and salt and introduce low-fat menus.

Detailed advice is also given on how to use planning guidelines to restrict where and when takeaways set up, including avoiding opening up near schools.

"Cashless" school systems are also promoted to discourage pupils from buying junk food, while improving on-site canteen options is another suggestion.

The guidance will be issued to all London boroughs amid soaring levels of takeaways. There are 8,273 fast-food shops in London – one for every 1,000 Londoners.

About 63,000 adults – one in four – and 12,000 children, 750 of whom are one-year-olds, are obese in Croydon, the latest figures show.

Margaret Mead, Croydon Council's member in charge of adult health, said: "This is certainly welcomed and we are already well on the way to implementing some of the suggestions that are outlined."

Boris Johnson backs Croydon's war on obesity


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