We have three articles under review in open access journals:
Change in the number and outcome of takeaway food outlet planning applications in response to adoption of exclusion zones around schools in England: a time series analysis
- under review with Health and Place
We used interrupted time series analyses to estimate the impact of exclusion zones on changes in the number of takeaway planning applications received by LAs and the percentage they rejected.
We observed an overall decrease in the number of applications received by intervention LAs at 12 months post-intervention, and an increase in the percentage of applications that were rejected at first and final decision, the latter taking into account any appeal outcomes. These proximal, process measures of effectiveness will necessarily precede any downstream retail and health impacts. Our findings suggest that exclusion zone policies may have the potential to curb the proliferation of new takeaways near schools and subsequently impact on population health.
Retailer responses to the proposals for takeaway exclusion zones around schools: a longitudinal qualitative analysis of public consultations from 2009-2019
- under review with International Journal of Health Policy and Management
Local authorities in England can adopt takeaway management zones near schools (referred to elsewhere as ‘exclusion zones’) to decide if, when, and where new takeaway food outlets can open. The primary aim of these zones is to improve population health, especially among young people. Between 2009 and 2019, internationally established fast-food retailers consistently objected to the adoption of takeaway management zones near schools. Fast-food retailers claimed that there was little evidence to support takeaway management zone adoption. They also made poor diet and health out to be the result of a single cause that was unrelated to the food they sold. Doing so meant that they could propose alternative interventions that would not stop them from opening new outlets in the future. The findings from our research have highlighted the ways that internationally established fast-food retailers prioritise their future development and profits over population health, especially of the next generation.
Public acceptability of proposals to manage new takeaway food outlets near schools: cross-sectional analysis of the 2021 International Food Policy Study
- under review with Cities & Health
“Some councils in England are adopting takeaway management zones around schools. The long term purpose of these zones is to help people to eat better by preventing an increase in the number of takeaways operating in the places where we buy food.”
Imagine you were asked for your opinion about proposals from your local council to adopt these zones… would you offer your support? Do you think they would be effective in helping people to eat better? How do you think that the zones would work?
We asked these types of questions during an online survey in 2021.
Here’s how over 3300 adults living across England, Scotland and Wales answered.
- More than half said they would support proposals from their local council to adopt takeaway management zones around schools.
- Less than one in ten said they would be against proposals, and about a third said that they had a neutral perspective.
- Most reported that takeaway management zones around schools would be effective in helping people to eat better.
- They typically agreed that if there were fewer takeaways near schools then other types of food outlets could open, schools would find it easier to promote healthy food and young people would eat takeaway food less often.
We’re encouraged by our findings because they suggest that adults living in Great Britain already support takeaway management zones. This could be important from a political perspective because it might mean that there will be little direct opposition from members of the public if they propose to adopt a measure that can manage if, how and when takeaways are allowed to open. In turn, this might increase local council backing for such measures.
Improving the diet and health of young people is one rationale for adopting takeaway management zones near schools. Because of this, we also asked 16 and 17 year olds what they thought having fewer takeaways near schools might achieve. We used information from over 350 responses to try and better understand their perspectives.
Generally speaking, the young people who answered our questions believed that if there were fewer takeaways near schools then other young people would not:
- travel to takeaways further away from school to buy the food they wanted;
- have food delivered to schools or buy unhealthy food from other places;
- necessarily eat takeaway food less often.
We’re optimistic about our findings because it might be that adopting takeaway management zones around schools would not accidentally encourage young people to seek out takeaway food from places that could have only opened further away. However, our findings indicate that young people buy takeaway food outside of school times or from places that are not near their school, meaning that we need to think about other types of food and other types of shops. We also need to think about the other ways that takeaway food can be purchased like through online food delivery service platforms.
The findings from our recently published research suggest that takeaway management zones near schools would be supported by adults. However, it might be that further measures that consider the other places where we purchase food are needed.