BRIGHTON and Hove has one of the highest concentrations of takeaways in the country.
Nutrition groups fear the glut of fast food premises in the city – one for every 768 residents – could be contributing to the obesity crisis.
The latest data shows that Brighton and Hove has the fourth highest proportion of fast food premises in Britain – more than London or Glasgow.
According to the Health Survey for England, 50,000, or 20.2%, of adults in Brighton and Hove are obese, at an estimated cost to NHS in Brighton and Hove of £78.1 million in 2010.
All takeaways have to be licensed by Brighton and Hove City Council.
A council spokesman said: “A recent healthy eating study concluded that fast food outlets or hot-food premises are only part of the problem and that non-hot-food premises such as supermarkets and newsagents are making a more significant contribution to the offer of unhealthy foods.
“For this reason, the council’s planning experts concluded that using planning control regulations just for fast-food outlets was not the answer to the problem.”
He added that despite a national picture of rising obesity the national weight measurement programme for children aged five to 11 has not shown an increasing trend in obesity in the city.
Brighton and Hove director of public health Dr Tom Scanlon said reducing obesity “is a high priority”.
“The role that fast food outlets or supermarkets and newsagents play in promoting obesity is just one area where we are working hard to improve the situation so for example we’re talking with retailers near schools to offer healthier options.
“With more than 8 million visitors a year it’s no surprise that Brighton and Hove has a high proportion of fast food outlets per resident – particularly in the city centre and on the seafront.
“But we recognise that more has to be done to improve the food on sale from both large retailers and newsagents as well as fast food outlets, particularly around schools.”
He added: “To tackle this we are working with hot food takeaways to improve menus, use of ingredients and portion sizes and are also engaging with larger retailers to improve the offer of healthier options, particular around schools in the city.”
Weight Watchers found Brighton and Hove ranked only lower than Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh for the number of takeaways, cafes and coffee shops per head.
The slimming group branded the worst affected areas “toxic cities” in the battle against obesity because of the availability of “food porn”.