KFC is thwarting councils attempting to fight rising obesity by challenging their bids to prevent takeaways being opened near schools, officials have claimed, after it was revealed this week the health crisis is costing the UK £100billion per year.
The fast food giant has succeeded in having the policies stopped completely or significantly watered down in 24 of 43 council areas it has challenged, the Times reports.
Since 2017, 16 councils have abandoned the plans while a further eight have had to limit the extent of their powers, after the fast food giant responded to public consultations.
KFC has argued in many cases that the policies have either not been through the proper channels or that there is not a strong enough evidential link between childhood obesity and takeaways close to schools.
It comes after the scale of the UK’s obesity problem was revealed to be costing £100billion per year this week, with two thirds of adults now classed as overweight or obese. The same is true for 38 percent of year six pupils at English schools of which almost 25 percent are obese.
The fast food giant has succeeded in having the policies stopped completely or significantly watered down in 24 of 43 council areas it has challenged
Council officials have been trying to limit the number of takeaways and fast food restaurants close to schools across the country, but are required to open up new planning policies to a public consultation.
These policies have reportedly often been challenged by KFC, with an external planning inspector ruling in the chain’s favour in half of cases.
One such case is the town of Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, where four in ten year six pupils are overweight or obese.
When the council introduced plans to ban new takeaways within 400 metres of schools claiming that year six pupils living with the highest density of fast food restaurants had a higher BMI than those with none.
But KFC successfully argued in March that there was not sufficient evidence of a direct link, adding the proposal was ‘negative in its assumption that all hot food takeaways offer little choice and serve the same type and standard of food’, the Times reports.
The plans were struck down by a planning inspector.
Children haven’t been spared either, with an increasing portion becoming overweight or obese as they age. Data for 2021/22
Much like adults the proportion of children in England either obese or overweight have broadly increased over time
A quarter of kids in reception are now considered overweight, with one in 10 obese
A spokesperson for KFC said: ‘We take our role on high streets and the positive contribution we make in communities across the country extremely seriously and, like many businesses, we take up opportunities to contribute when local authorities seek the views of relevant parties on things like planning policy.
‘This is a standard part of the policymaking process to ensure potentially unconsidered impacts on the local area are brought to light.
‘As a part of this routine consultation process, we have offered our concerns on some draft policies which took a broad-brush stroke approach, supported by limited evidence, that would in practice actually mean a ban on opening any new restaurants at all in the local area.
‘As a business, we are in fact supportive of the sector taking a responsible approach to schools. For example, we already have self-imposed restrictions on advertising near schools which are stricter than current advertising regulations.’
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