Fast food outlets urged to offer healthier choices by Croydon Council
Fast food restaurants are being lobbied by the council to offer healthier food alternatives as part of plans to crack down on one of the borough's biggest killers.
Council bosses are looking to reduce the level of heart disease in the borough with a third of deaths attributed to it in Croydon each year.
Last month Croydon Council launched the Heart Town programme, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, which will run for five years and will look to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles.
About 133 people die each year from heart disease that could have been prevented and the council want to lower that figure.
Dr Mike Robinson, director of public health, said one of the first ports of call will be to liaise with fast food outlets to offer alternative options.
Those who offer healthier options will have the chance to display a Heart Town sticker in their windows to show they are affiliated with the scheme.
It is hoped that encouraging healthier eating will crack down on the level of obesity in the borough and as a result lower the risk of heart disease.
The Heart Town programme will run for five years.
A quarter of Croydon's adults are morbidly obese, according the latest Government figures, with 23 per cent of the borough's children also severely overweight.
Councillor Margaret Mead, cabinet member for adult services and health, said there will be an emphasis on education as they look to improve good lifestyle habits amongst children.
She also said the more people who take action to improve their health will signify how successful the programme is.
A number of events and campaigns are also being organised as part of the programme.
Mr Robinson said: "The most important benefit will be fewer deaths from heart diseases, fewer hospital admissions with heart related problems and a better sense of well being.
"I am confident we can make a difference. We want it to be easier to access support services. That is my mission for Croydon. Through Heart Town, we can get people to take up these opportunities.
"I am not saying it is going to be easy but if we can be there to support people then I think we can succeed."
Coun Mead added: "We have concerns which is why we are introducing Heart Town, you cannot force people to change. You can only encourage them.
"Doing this for five years gives us the opportunity to support people and get them to take responsibility for their health."
The council has previously said it would look at trying to use planning powers to limit the number of fast food outlets.
Figures published earlier this year showed the number of fast food outlets in Croydon, had almost doubled in the previous four years to 246.
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