Friday, 1 February 2019

Desperate excuses about fast food zoning bans

The proximity and density of fast food outlets in an area has no relationship with the number of people who are obese. Anyone who looks at the empirical evidence, of which there is plenty, can see that.

And so it is no surprise that zoning laws which restrict fast food outlets have no impact on obesity. They didn't work when they were tried on a grand scale in Los Angeles and there is growing evidence that they don't work when virtue-signalling councils suppress competition by introducing them near schools in England.

As The Times reports...

A Times analysis shows preventing shops from opening in the areas around schools has had little impact on levels of childhood obesity in those areas.

.. The Times looked at 13 schemes introduced since 2008, including bans on fast food vans trading outside school gates, limits on weekday opening hours of takeaway shops close to schools and rejections of planning applications for new ones to be built within 400 metres of a school. In nine of the councils, obesity rates among pupils in their final year of primary school had increased, according to government data.

The evidence mounts, but don't expect Public Health England to stop encouraging its minions to stop lobbying for these stupid bylaws. Instead, we get pathetic excuses like this...

Council chiefs said they were fighting a losing battle in the face of delivery apps such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and JustEat. Last week it emerged that Uber Eats couriers had been willing to deliver McDonald’s meals to school addresses.

.. Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “Deliveries ordered via apps undermine both schools’ and councils’ public health responsibilities, while also raising child protection concerns over couriers attempting to enter school premises.”

Takeaway shops have always done deliveries. It is highly unlikely that giving people the ability to order on the internet rather than over the phone has made any real difference. It is much more likely that councils are using the apps as an excuse for the inevitable failure of their zoning policies.

If 'public health' was an evidence-based endeavour, these policies would be ditched (how many times have I said that over the years?). But they won't be.

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said: “Whatever happens, local councils should continue to refuse to allow takeaways setting up shop near schools.”

That's the spirit!

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