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College backs ban on junk food near schools

The RCGP have backed calls for a ban on fast food restaurants opening within 400 metres of schools, as part of a raft of public health measures to improve London’s health.

The college ‘applauded’ proposals by the London Health Commission, led by Lord Ara Darzi, for minimum alcohol pricing of 50p per unit and tougher planning restrictions on junk food.

Lord Darzi argued the measures were needed because of ‘shocking’ concentration of outlets in some boroughs, saying ‘a school in Tower Hamlets will have 42 junk food outlets around a single school.’

The college added that potentially ‘controversial’ plan to ban smoking in London’s parks were no more ‘extreme’ than smoking bans in pubs would have seemed a decade ago.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘The patterns laid out in early years can define a child’s health for life. Children look to adults for example so, as parents and health professionals, we all have a responsibility to ensure that every child grows up in a smoke-free environment and that they have a healthy diet and regular exercise’

The college also cautiously welcomed the recommendation of a £1 billion investment into GP premises in London, which Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage was also ‘sceptical’ about.

Read Dr Michelle Drage’s comments on proposals to invest £1 billion in GP premises here