The difficulties of tackling “£1 chicken and chips” amid the battle against childhood obesity has been highlighted by one of south-east London’s senior medical figures.

Clinical chair of NHS Greenwich, Dr Krishna Subbarayan, told a meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing board that the sheer number of fast-food outlets in Greenwich presented a large hurdle for the borough in meeting pan-London health targets.

His comments came as the board discussed the ten-point London Health and Care Vision report, which outlines a city-wide initiative aimed at making London the healthiest international city in the world.

One of the ten-points is the reduction in childhood obesity, a particular issue in Greenwich where, in recent years, rates have exceeded the national average.

“Have we mapped how many unhealthy food outlets there are in Greenwich, (and) how close they are to schools? What is the planning approach?” Dr Subbarayan said to board members.  

“What is being done because these are ambitious targets (contained in the report).

“It’s so difficult these days, there are so many McDonald’s, chip shops (and) kebabs shops.”

He added that local families were also over-consuming fast food in cases where “a mother or father doesn’t how to cook very good food”, highlighting the continuing need for education on healthy eating.

Council leader and board member Danny Thorpe highlighted that Greenwich’s last local plan, which dictates where thousands of homes and businesses will be built in the coming years, had initially contained a policy which wouldn’t allow fast food outlets to be built within 400 metres of a school.

However, Cllr Thorpe said that policy was “chucked out” by the Government inspector during the draft stage due to it being “anti-competitive”.  

“The horse has bolted and you’ve got to respond…how can you beat £1 chicken and chips? There’s a challenge for all of us on the prevention side,” he said. 

He added the authority was involved with multiple strategies aimed at combating obesity in the borough.

Multiple reports in recent years have highlighted Greenwich’s high rates of childhood obesity, with a November 2018 stating that roughly 41 per cent of pupils are overweight or obese by the time they start secondary school – compared to the country’s 34 per cent average.

The council has a number of initiatives to tackle obesity in the borough.

These include taking a “whole system” approach to tackling child obesity through their Health and Wellbeing Strategy, as well as implementing the Healthy Weights Environments actions to increase walkability and diversify the food and drink offer in the borough.

Greenwich was also one of the first London boroughs to launch a Jamie Oliver endorsed Sugar Smart Campaign partnering with schools, businesses, and hospitals to reduce the sugar content in the products they offer.