There's no denying that obesity is an epidemic. And the massive amounts of fast food joints in nearly every city in the world sure don't help people make healthy eating choices. Especially vulnerable are the young folks, many of whom might only have a pocketful of change and could totally live off French fries for days on end.
But in an effort to curb such unhealthy yet tempting menu options in his city, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has made a bold move -- and the world is watching.
Khan is determined to make indulging off the value menu slightly more difficult for students by banning fast food restaurants from opening within a quarter of a mile from primary and secondary schools (ages 5 through 16) throughout London, reports the Evening Standard.
"Takeaway restaurants are a vibrant part of London life, but it's important that they are not encouraging our children to make poor food choices," said Khan, according to the Evening Standard. "I am using all of my powers through my new London Plan to prevent new takeaways from being built just down the road from schools as part of a package of measures to tackle the ticking time bomb of childhood obesity and help us all lead healthier lives."
In the updated city guidelines, Khan is also going to make sure that incoming restaurants that serve foods like chicken, pizza and fish and chips within the designated radius abide by certain health standards before they get the green light for planning. He is also implementing new rules for fast food spots, which include keeping salt levels to a minimum and including more baked and grilled options over fried ones.
London has the highest rate of childhood obesity in England, at 40 percent of graduating primary school students. In rest of the U.K., approximately 20 percent of children are obese, putting them at a higher risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers, Susan Levin, director of Nutrition Education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, told Plant Based News.
"Allowing fast-food restaurants -- who aggressively market artery-clogging burgers and greasy chicken nuggets to children -- to open their doors just steps away from schools would undermine the work of educators who teach children to make healthful choices," she explained.