Blackpool’s density of takeaways fuelling obesity, health chief says

Burgers at a burger bar in Blackpool
Image caption,Blackpool’s director of public health says the environment we live in pushes us towards unhealthy eating

The number of takeaways in a seaside resort makes it hard for people to lose weight, a health chief has said.

Blackpool’s Director of Public Health Dr Arif Rajpura said the density of fast food outlets had created an “obesogenic” environment.

He said the council was working with takeaways and food banks to provide healthy food options.

Blackpool has the highest density of fast food outlets in the country outside London, according to a report.

The data was submitted to the town council’s levelling up scrutiny committee as Blackpool Council approved its five-year healthy weight strategy to tackle obesity.

An estimated 70% of people in Blackpool are overweight or obese, the equivalent of 77,000 residents, compared to the national figure of 63%, according to data from the 2020/21 Sport England active lives survey.

Dr Rajpura, said the easy access to fast food and ultra processed food was contributing to a rise in obesity.

“Over the years, we’ve developed what’s called an obesogenic environment so the environment we live in pushes us to eat unhealthily,” he said.

“So it’s really important we have an environment which actually nudges us to healthier lifestyle choices, not unhealthy lifestyle choices.”

He added: “What we need to do is actually change the environment and this is what we’re trying to do in Blackpool.”

The council introduced the Healthier Choices Award in 2017 which recognised food outlets which put healthy products on their menu.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said the authority was also providing free breakfasts for primary school pupils and limiting the number of new takeaways

Reducing the density of fast food outlets available “starts to change the environment and starts to nudge people into having healthier choices”, Dr Rajpura said.

The council is also helping food banks provide healthier food as well as teaching healthier ways of cooking.

Dr Rajpura told BBC Radio Lancashire: “Our nutritionist has been working with the food bank [so] when we’re supplying the food we’re providing healthy recipes.

“When people are struggling financially, sometimes they can’t afford some of the healthier food so what we need to do is to tackle that poverty, but also as part of that, provide people with healthier products as part of the food packages that they’re getting.

“We see tackling poverty and providing healthier options as all being part of what we’re trying to do.”


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