‘Lifestyle is to blame – not the odd takeaway’

Food map of takeaway in Preston
Food map of takeaway in Preston
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Takeaway owners say the answer to childhood obesity lies in lifestyle, not the occasional takeaway.

They spoke out at the news the council plans to ban any new hot food outlets within walking distance of schools.

Fish and chip shop owner and treasurer of the Fish Fryers Federation Andrew Crook said that it was unfair to assume that all takeaway food was unhealthy.

Andrew, who owns Skippers on Blackpool Road, near the Ashton Community Science College, said he once did a good trade at lunchtimes thanks to school.

But after a clampdown on pupils leaving the premises at lunchtime, about three years ago, his shop has seen a dramatic fall in sales.

He said: “In reality, fish and chips is approximately nine per cent fat and that’s a lot lower than some sandwich fillings.

“As part of a balanced diet, there’s nothing wrong with it.

“We use rape seed oil, which is very low in fat, and filter it once or twice a day.

“We also cook all our meat products in a separate fryer.

“I think people should be allowed to choose what they eat.”

He said he thought it unlikely that the new exclusion zones would have any significant impact on childhood obesity.

The new regulations, which are likely to be introduced next summer, also include shops selling hot pies and pasties.

However, Alan Steele, owner of Gornall’s Bakery on New Hall Lane, Preston, said: “Anything’s unhealthy if you eat enough of it.

“There’s no point in just focussing on one aspect, it’s about a whole lifestyle. These days children are taken to school in cars, whereas my generation walked.

“We used to run about 
playing football after school but you don’t see that any more.

“I think a lot of this is down to education and how we conduct ourselves.”

Although some schools are close to more than one takeaway, many of these do not open at lunchtimes.

Michelle Murray, office manager at Penwortham Girls High School, said: “I’m not sure how much difference this will make; the takeaways have always been around.

“I think obesity often has more to do with how people eat at home and a lack of exercise.

“Not many of our girls go out at lunchtime anyway and if they do they need a letter.

“Even so the local takeaways are mainly Indian or Chinese and only open in the evenings.”

Coun John Swindells, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “When you look at the maps there are very few places left around the city centre that aren’t in an 
exclusion zone.”

The recommendations, which are also being embraced by South Ribble and Chorley borough councils, would also encourage more allotments and grow-your-own schemes.

The council document, Access to Healthy Food, also specifies that new hot food takeaways in Preston city centre would be allowed only where they did not result in an “over concentration” to the detriment of local retailers.

The recommendations, which have to wait until September 2013 before they are finalised, also aim to encourage more allotments and grow-your-own schemes.