People who live or work near takeaways 'twice as likely to be obese'

Research shows that those living or working near to 'clusters' of takeaway outlets were more likely to eat unhealthy food, challenging the notion that people’s diets were solely influenced by individual choice

Encountering too many takeaway outlets near our homes, workplaces and even on the daily commute to work could be increasing our risk of obesity, a study has shown.

In the latest piece of research to highlight the link between the ready availability of fast food in the UK and expanding waistlines, experts at the University of Cambridge found that we are exposed to, on average, 32 different takeaway options on a day-to-day basis.

Individuals in the study who were most exposed to temptation, either because their home or workplace is close to fast food outlets, or because there are many of them along their route to work, were almost twice as likely to be obese as the least exposed individuals.

One of the study’s authors, Dr Thomas Burgoine, of Cambridge’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research said that, for some people in the UK, a wide range of unhealthy food options in their neighbourhood challenged the notion that people’s diets were solely influenced by individual choice, and called for extra measures to tackle the boom in takeaway shops.

“All of us make our food purchasing decisions in an environmental context – no-one lives in a vacuum,” he told The Independent. “In the last 20 years food environments in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods have changed dramatically. Takeaway food outlets are now more accessible than they’ve ever been. What that means on a day-to-day basis is that we have a food environment in which it’s increasingly easy to make unhealthy food choices. Some people live in a place where it’s easier to make healthy choices than others. If the only health you have is an unhealthy choice that’s not really a choice.”

Previous studies have shown that low income groups are more likely to live near “clusters” of takeaway outlets. A number of local authorities have now taken action to restrict the number that open within a certain area, while others have placed bans on burger vans and other takeaway vendors operating near schools.

The Cambridge study, published in the British Medical Journal today, looked at the eating habits and weight of nearly 5,500 people who took part in a lifestyle study in 2011, and compared the results to information on the number of takeaway outlets in their area. Researchers estimated grams of daily takeaway consumption based on intake of burgers, pizza, fried chicken and chips. The group of people who were most exposed to fast food options consumed on average 5.7 grams more takeaway food than the least exposed group.

Health officials said that regular consumption of such foods, which tend to be high in salt and saturated fat, risked driving up calorie intake and increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Dr Alison Tedstone, director of diet and obesity at Public Health England said the organisation was “working to help local authorities tackle the environmental causes of obesity.”

“We have produced guidance on the regulation of takeaway fast food outlets which provides local authorities with recommendations such as using fast food outlet exclusion zones in school areas. PHE also provides a range of tips to make healthier choices easier when eating out and from takeaways,” she said.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn