Some might say that a trip to Scarborough is incomplete without a seafront stroll with a bag of fish and chips.
But new research gives the town’s residents cause for concern, as it was revealed yesterday the seaside destination has the highest ratio of fast food outlets compared to its population in all of Yorkshire and the Humber.
According to Public Health England (PHE), there are around 6,000 fast food outlets across the region.
And it has mapped the number of fast food outlets, including burger bars, kebab and chip shops, in each local authority compared to the local population.
Across the region this ranges from 60 per 100,000 of the population in Hambleton to 158 per 100,000 in Scarborough – which has one of the highest densities of fast food outlets in the country. The England average is 88 per 100,000.
Scarborough Borough Council’s portfolio holder for public health, Coun William Chatt, admits he is concerned about the number of takeaways lining the streets.
He said: “I totally agree – I wouldn’t say they are a blight but I would say they are a problem.
“When I was a kid in Scarborough, a takeaway was fish and chips. Then it became pizzas and Indian food. Now we have got such a range.
“I do think as a treat they’re fine but not as a staple part of your diet.”
But Coun Chatt (Woodlands, Independent) adds: “The problem we have is that we have to change our planning policies. Coun Tony Randerson (Labour, Eastfield) has already put a motion forward to the council to limit the number of new fast food outlets opening up in the town, which is in its early stages after gaining cross-party support.
North Yorkshire County councillor David Chance, executive member for stronger communities and public health, said: “Our ambition is to reduce obesity across North Yorkshire by supporting people to manage their weight.
“Our challenge is to create the environment that supports us in developing and sustaining healthy eating and physical activity habits.” He said that many businesses have embraced the council’s Healthier Choices scheme and have pledged to improve their options for customers.
Scarborough held its first takeaway masterclasses recently, which brought business together to show them how to follow simple steps to produce healthier menu options, leading to 40 pledges to make improvement .
These include altering sauces that are high in fat, making better use of cooking oils and giving more emphasis to water over drinks high in sugar.
PHE revealed that Hull has the second highest ratio of fast food places, with 137.4 per 100,000 of its population.
And Leeds followed in third, with 126 takeaways per 100,000 people.
Fast food is likely to be high in saturated fat and salt, of which many of us already consume more than official recommendations, said PHE. Corinne Harvey, from PHE in Yorkshire, said: “Having fish and chips or a chicken curry is part of our culture.
“However over a fifth of adults and children eat takeaway meals at home more than once a week, and that is contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.
“Some councils are already looking at how they could limit new takeaways, particularly around schools, as a healthy environment is a core part of tackling childhood obesity.”
Government organisation PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.