A battle of the bulge as fast food outlets besiege town

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There are now almost 100 fast food outlets in Eastbourne at a time when locals are struggling to control their widening waistline.

The Herald revealed earlier this year that new data suggests Eastbourne is sitting on a ticking time bomb of health problems with the number of overweight adults and youngsters on the increase.

In fact, a mammoth 64.6 per cent of adults in Eastbourne are considered either overweight or obese, while almost ten per cent of all reception class aged pupils in the town are labelled obese. Research from Public Health England found 9.6 per cent of all reception class aged pupils in Eastbourne were found to be obese. The data looked at children aged between four and five and a second group aged ten and 11 and comes from a study into children’s weights in 2009/10 and 2011/12.

Obesity rates in the second category, school year six, jumps to 17.9 per cent – or 430 of the 2,406 children in that age group.

The reception class level of 9.6 per cent equates to 254 obese children from the total of 2,643. Of the remaining children, the report says 75.7 per cent – or 2,002 – are a healthy weight.

In the year six ages group the number of healthy pupils is 1,609, or 66.9 per cent. And new data uncovered this week shows Eastbourne now boasts 94 fast food outlets, with some commentators nationally suggesting a link between the availability of junk food and the country’s increasing obesity problems.

The research, also by Public Health England, looked at the cities, towns and election wards across the country – counting the number of fast food outlets and working out a rate per 100,000 residents.

Eastbourne is among the highest in the area, scoring 94.7 per 100,000. Hastings (112 per 100,000) and Brighton and Hove (121.6) had higher numbers of fast food outlets. Nearby Rother, which includes Bexhill, has just 53 fast food outlets, or 58.4 per 100,000 and Wealden scored 63.6.

Recent studies in America have suggested the link between fast food outlets and obesity is perhaps not as prominent as initially thought. And, in fact, locally the data would support that shift in thinking. Brighton and Hove has the highest level of outlets per 100,000 but among the lowest level of adults who are tagged overweight or obese at just 49 per cent. Public Health England concluded research into the link between food availability and obesity is still relatively undeveloped but said there was a strong association between deprivation and the density of fast food outlets, with more deprived areas having more outlets per 100,000 population.