Wigan is one of the nation’s fast food capitals boasting one of the highest ratios of takeaways to food outlets in England.
Figures obtained through the Food Environment Assessment Tool show that there are a whopping 439 fast food takeaways in the borough out of 1,174 food vendors.
With a rate of 37.4 per cent, the town now sits amid the highest in the North West and across the England, topped only by Blackburn with 39.3 per cent and Hartlepool with 38.4 per cent.
Back in May this year, it was revealed through health data, that Wigan is in the top 10 most obese places in the country, with more than a third of the borough’s children classed as overweight by the time they leave primary. A number which continues to grow year on year.
Following a recent documentary about fast food stores, social media users have sparked a discussion about the crisis, which some believe is the fault of Wigan Council for granting so many licences.
“That’s Wigan council for you, as long as the rates come in they don’t care,” said Paul Ellison. While Jacqueline Cowell added: “Someone keeps giving them licences to trade. Wouldn’t be WMBC by any chance?”
But the council has hit back at the allegations, explaining that it is only responsible for licences when the premises stays open after 11pm.
Under the council’s new licensing policy two cumulative impact zones were introduced in town centres which address the levels of alcohol related crime, disorder and nuisance.
Late-night takeaways in Wigan now fall under the policy and new premises are required to provide “substantial evidence” they will not add to these problems in order to be granted a licence.
Health bosses have explained that they are “comprehensive” measures in place to combat the growing obesity crisis.
Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health for Wigan Council, said: “We have a number of brilliant fully commissioned comprehensive obesity services, including Lose Weight, Feel Great, to encourage people to take control of their health and make healthier life choices.
“We know if we start early with our children, we can lay the foundations of good practice, make physical activity and health eating the norm, and work towards our vision of prevention of ill health.”
The “Lose Weight, Feel Great” initiative includes a number of services to help people manage their weight, including an online programme, one-to-one support from a health trainer, a consultant-led weight management service, and the group-based community weight management programme.
Services aim offer support and advice about healthy eating, physical activity and behaviour change, to help people lose weight and “keep it off for good”.
Prof Ardern added: “Our Let’s Get Movin’ programme has received national recognition for tackling childhood obesity and has been used as an example of best practice.
"Not only does it encourage children to adopt a healthy way of living and teaches them the benefits of eating healthily and exercising it also educates parents and helps them to introduce healthy life choices which is a crucial aspect of improving wellbeing.
“Our work through Wellfest and the Daily Mile further demonstrates our commitment to tackling health and wellness in the borough.”
There are now more than 9,000 children, 50 primary schools and 12 early years settings across the borough who participate in the The Daily Mile.
The council is also hoping to introduce “The Daily Toddle” in partnership with early years providers.
The public health chief added: “Working in partnership with Inspiring healthy lifestyles and our other partners across health and education, we remain committed to improving health in Wigan borough, to make sure every child has the best possible start, and adults can lead long, healthy lives.”