The Faculty of Public Health recommends that local authorities should: 7

  • establish a local ‘food poverty partnership’ involving health services, local authorities and voluntary organisations, to develop a local food poverty strategy
  • work with the local community to understand their views on priorities, barriers and opportunities through community meetings and surveys, and promote healthy eating.

Influencing the supply of food of poor nutritional quality via fast food takeaways is a growing area of interest for a number of local authorities, including many London boroughs.  The Takeaways Toolkit, produced by the Mayor of London and the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) sets out three broad areas of focus to help local authorities tackle the proliferation of such outlets, including: 8

  • working with takeaway businesses and the food industry with healthier catering award schemes
  • working with schools to reduce fast food consumed by children and young people
  • regulatory and planning measures (including trading policies, increased enforcement of hygiene standards and planning policies to restrict fast food takeaways)

The Takeaways Toolkit provides examples of best practice and evaluations of projects to improve takeaway foods. The most popular in London is the Healthier Catering Commitment (HCC).  This voluntary project encourages food businesses to improve the availability of, and access to, healthier foods and to reformulate recipes,  redesign menus and reduce portion sizes of unhealthy meals (such as chips).  Twenty-three of London’s 32 boroughs have an HCC scheme. 9

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has also provided guidance for local authorities relevant to improving the food environment, recommending that planning applications should be required to consider the health impacts of developments, including: 10

  • maintaining or enhancing existing opportunities for food growing
  • avoiding over-concentration of hot-food takeaways, and restricting proximity to schools or other facilities aimed at children, young and vulnerable people
  • ensuring that shops and food markets sell a diverse offer of food choices and are easily accessible.

In terms of fiscal measures, the 2016 Budget announced proposals to reduce sugar consumption in England by introducing a national levy on sugar-sweetened drinks. 11

Box 3: Case study – Reducing a city’s sugar intake 12

Brighton and Hove Council has developed a campaign called Sugar Smart City. They interviewed food businesses, schools, early years settings, residents and young people to inform the development of an action plan to reduce the sugar intake of local residents. This will be done by raising awareness of sugar in food and drinks, improving cooking skills and changing the food environment by offering fewer high-sugar products.

References

  1. Faculty of Public Health, “Food Poverty and Health,” 2005
  2. Greater London Authority, “Takeaways Toolkit. Tools, interventions and case studies to help local authorities develop a response to the health impacts of fast food takeaways,” 2012
  3. Sustain and Soil Association, “Good Food for London,” 2015
  4. Town and Country Planning Association, “Public health planning and good practice guides,” 2015
  5. HM Treasury, “The Budget,” 2016
  6. Brighton and Hove City Council, “Sugar Smart,” [Online]. Available: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/health/healthy-lifestyle/sugar-smart-city-what-do-you-think. [Accessed June 2016]
  7. Faculty of Public Health, “Food Poverty and Health,” 2005
  8. Greater London Authority, “Takeaways Toolkit. Tools, interventions and case studies to help local authorities develop a response to the health impacts of fast food takeaways,” 2012
  9. Sustain and Soil Association, “Good Food for London,” 2015
  10. Town and Country Planning Association, “Public health planning and good practice guides,” 2015
  11. HM Treasury, “The Budget,” 2016
  12. Brighton and Hove City Council, “Sugar Smart,” [Online]. Available: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/health/healthy-lifestyle/sugar-smart-city-what-do-you-think. [Accessed June 2016]