THE council of a borough with one of the highest obesity rates in the UK says it is doing all it can to promote healthy living – despite the opening of another fast food restaurant.
In Gosport, 72 per cent of people are considered overweight or obese, with a Body Mass Index level of more than 25.
It makes it the sixth fattest authority in England.
But despite these high levels, a drive-through KFC has recently opened in Fareham Road and a McDonald’s is proposed in Brockhurst Gate.
Gosport Borough Council said that although it understands concerns over the fast food firms, there is only so much it could do to reduce obesity levels.
Its leader, Councillor Mark Hook, said: ‘It all comes down to personal choice, we cannot restrict what’s on offer to the public. I can understand the frustrations but it’s down to the individual. It’s a concern of ours but we are doing as much as we can. We cannot be there to stop everybody eating at fast food restaurants.
‘All we can do is encourage a healthy lifestyle. That is something we are doing with our Health and Wellbeing team.’
As previously reported, the authority was given £22,000 by Hampshire County Council to identify areas of health which need improving and take steps to do so.
Dr David Chilvers, a practice partner for Waterside Medical Centre, in Mumby Road, Gosport, and the lead of the Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, said changes need to be made on the social acceptance of over-eating.
He said: ‘Smoking used to seen as a socially-acceptable thing. But we have changed people’s views on that.
‘The same needs to be done for over-eating. It’s a massive concern and agencies need to work together.
‘It will take time but we need to make it easier for people to exercise.
‘We also need to help them realise that eating excessively or making these trips out to places should not be seen as the norm and should be avoided or had as a special occasion.’
Councillor Roger Allen, who sits on the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: ‘We have been working hard to promote healthy living.
‘We cannot stop these fast food restaurants being built because we need to have real reasons to refuse applications.
‘Concerns for obesity is not one of them. If we did refuse the application, they can appeal and go to the secretary of state and build it anyway.’