A new report published today (13 September 2019) outlines a raft of measures aimed at overhauling the after-school street environment for children in the UK. Routing Out Childhood Obesity, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), found that despite wider efforts to support kids’ healthy eating in school and at home, the world they experience between the school gates and the front door can still have a disproportionate effect on diet and lifestyle.
With nine children in every year 6 class overweight or obese, childhood obesity in the UK poses a serious, yet fixable, public health challenge. Backed up by widespread public support, this report identifies four key aspects of the street environment that should be disrupted to give children a healthier route home from school:
- Addressing the junk food offer around schools – including
- using a mixture of licensing and planning tools to ban unhealthy fast food outlets (FFOs) from within a 5-minute walk of school gates (backed by 65% of the public);
- ending discounts targeted at school children (backed by 80%);
- ending app-based food delivery services to school gates (backed by 80%).
- Building better places to go – including better quality parks with teen use in mind, and physical signage outside schools directing kids to their nearest park.
- Transforming active travel – including a radical upgrade to cycling and walking infrastructure for young people, and scrapping burdensome regulations on lighting for zebra crossings, to allow many more ‘European-style’ crossings to be painted on our streets at low cost.
- Limiting the reach of junk food adverts – including banning the advertising of unhealthy food products across all council-owned advertising sites (backed by 80% of the public).
The full report and recommendations are based on research done in partnership with urban health foundation Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which included mapping the street environments of Lambeth and Southwark to gauge their impact on childhood obesity, and a series of interviews and focus groups with school children from the boroughs.