More adults are obese in North Yorkshire than the national average and health chiefs in England’s largest county have launched a campaign to tackle the crisis and encourage people to eat less junk food.
Food shops in the district which sign-up to introducing healthier food choices for their customers such as smaller portions, reduced sugar and salt, and promoting low sugar drinks in their stores will be given star ratings as part of a new scheme.
The campaign is being rolled out as a pilot project in the Scarborough area in partnership with participating takeaway food businesses. It is part of North Yorkshire County Council’s commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of people in the county by tackling obesity and encouraging exercise.
“At present around 68 per cent of adults in our county are overweight or obese against a national average of 64 per cent,” said County Councillor David Chance, portfolio holder for public health and stronger communities. “This is something we need to address to improve the overall health of our residents.”
The campaign comes as councillors meet this week to discuss a separate report which found one child in five who starts primary school in North Yorkshire is overweight, according to a new report which argues a blueprint needs to be agreed to encourage children to do more exercise and eat less junk food.
Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee will meet on Friday to discuss the report from North Yorkshire’s Director for Public Health, which also says careful thought needs to be given to restricting fast food shops from opening near schools to stop it being so easy for children to eat unhealthy foods.
By the time children start primary school in the county the shocking figures show a fifth are overweight - this figure increases to one in three by Year 6, when youngsters are aged 10 or 11.
Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and by 2050, obesity is predicted to affect six out of 10 adult men, half of adult women and a quarter of all children in the UK.
In Scarborough the new healthy eating campaign will see officers from the county council’s Trading Standards team out and about, working with food businesses and promoting a free gold, silver and bronze certificate scheme.
They will be awarded to food businesses who introduce a range of healthier food choices for their customers, such as different portion sizes, reduction of sugars and salts in the ingredients, and promoting water and low-sugar drinks over high-sugar alternatives.
Changes will be assessed and points will be awarded which will result in food shops being given a gold, silver or bronze rating by council chiefs.
In return, the county council will promote a campaign website and takeaways will also be able to use a range of free promotional tools to help market the range of healthier options they are offering their customers.
“Businesses may also be offered the opportunity to take part in workshops designed to explore potential menu improvements that can help them grow their businesses as well as contributing to the fight against obesity in the county,” Coun Chance added.