Are Fast-Food and Takeaway Spots Bulging Our Waistlines?

Emily Waddell

Emily Waddell - Health Researcher and Writer

Posted Jan 8, 2021

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Monday 11th January marks the start of National Obesity Awareness Week in the UK. With obesity being one of the nation’s biggest health concerns, we’ve looked into how the growing numbers of takeaways could be a factor in England’s rising obesity diagnoses.

  • London has the highest number of takeaway locations in England and the highest number of bariatric surgeries due to a diagnosis of obesity.

  • The North West has the second highest number of takeaway locations in England and the highest number of obesity diagnoses.

  • Across all regions, women are more likely to be obese than men.

Fast-food is nothing new, it’s been around for almost two millennia according to a recent BBC article. Getting fast-food from the local takeaway before curling up on the sofa, is many people’s weekend routine. Fast-foods are typically higher in calories, salt, and saturated fat, which can lead to health problems when consumed often and in large portions. Despite the rise of health-conscious consumers, the calorific content of takeaway meals is significantly underestimated. Concerningly, waistlines are bulging across England. The latest Government figures show that 36% of the country was deemed overweight and 28% was classed as obese, while one in three children aged 10 to 11 is overweight or obese. In 2018/19 there were 876,000 hospital admissions where obesity was recorded as the primary or a secondary diagnosis. This is an increase of 23% in 2017/18 when there were 711,000 admissions. Around 2 in every 3 patients were female (65%).

obesity diagnoses in England 2018 and 2019 graph

Hospital Admissions Due to Obesity

In 2018/19 there were 7,011 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity and a main or secondary procedure of bariatric surgery. This is an increase of 6% on 2017/18 (6,627). Over three quarters (79%) of admissions were for females. Our research shows that where there are more takeaway spots, there are more hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity and a main or secondary procedure of bariatric surgery.

Map of number of takeaways and fast food restaurants in England

CEO of Qunomedical Dr. Sophie Chung adds: “The fast-food and takeaway sector is increasing rapidly every year and with this comes higher risks of obesity. With the UK lockdown, we can expect people to order high-calorie takeaways and get less exercise, potentially leading to more obesity diagnoses in 2021. At Qunomedical, we have seen that bariatric surgery alongside good aftercare and moderate lifestyle changes can give wonderful long-term results to patients struggling with obesity.”

Sources: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/statistics-on-obesity-physical-activity-and-diet/england-2020/part-1-obesity-related-hospital-admissions-copy https://www.ibisworld.com/united-kingdom/market-research-reports/takeaway-fast-food-restaurants-industry/

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