For many people obesity is a health issue but new findings show that obesity is also a social one with poverty and poor eating habits being closely linked to being seriously overweight.
According to research from Cambridge University the rising number of takeaway restaurants appearing in deprived areas of the UK have been found to make losing weight and being health more difficult for those who live in these areas where poverty is a factor.
The poorest areas of the UK now have more takeaways than they did only 20 years ago and this increase is helping to fuel the obesity epidemic in the country according to the research. Which showed that in Norfolk alone, the number of chip shops, kebab houses and other similar restaurants and eateries, has grown by a massive 45 percent, with the largest increase being seen in the most deprived areas of the county.
The news that poverty and obesity is linked is far from new but this new study has shown that if you live near to a takeaway or fast food restaurant then the chances of you becoming overweight tend to be higher.
Dr Pablo Monsivais of Cambridge University, where the latest research was conducted, said: ‘The growing concentration of takeaway outlets in poorer areas might be reinforcing inequalities in diet and obesity, with unhealthy neighbourhoods making it more difficult to make healthy food choices,’
He added: ‘Our findings suggest that it might be time for local authorities to think hard about restrictions on the number and location of outlets in a given area, particularly deprived areas.’
The researchers concluded that it may be necessary to push local councils to restrict the number of takeaways that are located in one area, especially if they are in deprived areas, to try and tackle the growing problem.
Lead author, PhD student Eva Maguire said: ‘The link we’ve seen between the number of takeaway food outlets and area deprivation is consistent with other reports, but this is the first time the changes over time have been studied in the UK.
‘There were differences in the densities of takeaway outlets as far back as we looked, but these differences also became more extreme.’
Making healthy and informed food choices can have a huge effect on weight and diet with much of this coming down to adequate education and the provision of healthy food options both at home and when out.
Criticism of policies to restrict the number of takeaways and similar restaurants come from those who value freedom of choice and removing the “nanny state” however we have to ask at what price the freedom of choice is having on the health of an entire nation.