Number of Edinburgh fast food outlets soaring, according to report

Government measures to improve the national diet have not diminished the popularity of takeaways. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Government measures to improve the national diet have not diminished the popularity of takeaways. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The number of fast food outlets in the Capital has risen by over a third in the past eight years, despite a raft of Scottish Government measures aimed at improving the national diet.

A new report revealed Edinburgh residents now have almost 400 different takeaways to choose from – a 33.8 per cent increase on the number of outlets registered in 2010.

For low income families, they provide meals that are filling, but not nutritious

Tam Fry

It means there are now 77 fast food restaurants for every 100,000 people in the city.

The report comes just months after Scottish Government health chiefs announced a crack down on the promotion of foods high in salt, sugar and fat in a bid to tackle the nation’s obesity epidemic.

Two thirds of Scottish adults are overweight, while around 29 per cent of those are defined as obese, according to figures released earlier this year. Campaigners are now calling for local authorities to be given further powers to curb the number of fast food outlets opening in their area.

Proposals put out for consultation could see restrictions placed on “supersized” soft drinks, free refills, multi-buys and junk food displays at checkouts.

But Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said local councils need more authority to deny new outlets the opportunity to “proliferate” in areas where there are already large numbers of junk food options.

He said: I’m not surprised about the rise, it’s considerable and the reason for that. Local government and local boards in Scotland find it a pain to deal with fast food outlets and they don’t have all the powers they need to say no to them.”

“These are businesses that come into an area, they pay rates, they bring employment and in a lot of cases, they are sourcing local produce.”

He continued; “Added to that, they are cheap, 
convenient, the food comes hot and cooked and for parts of the population they are a necessity. For low income families, they provide meals that are filling, but not nutritious.

“I think Holyrood have made good strides in improving school meals for children in that situation, but they still have to go home, they are just getting the same type of fast food there. All that good work is just going out the window.”

In West Lothian, the number of licensed takeaways rose from 85 to 100 over the eight-year period, while Midlothian experienced a 14.2 per cent increase in fast food outlets.

East Lothian saw an 11 per cent rise, jumping from 45 to 50 takeaway premises.

The report found a nationwide increase, with more than 3,500 junk food outlets now operating in Scotland.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said: “The significant increase in takeaways over the last eight years is a worrying trend that suggests the SNP Scottish Government public health messages are not being as effective as they could be and that the takeaway food environment in Scotland continues to increase.”

He added: “It is clear that local authorities have an important role to play in the local high street mix available which often drives consumer behaviour and food choices, especially in the most economically disadvantaged communities.”