The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s (RCPI) policy group on obesity has supported a campaign to create “no fry zones” around schools to keep fast food outlets away from children. This is a rational response to a growing epidemic challenging the wellbeing and prospects of hundreds of thousands of overweight children.
This epidemic, a consequence of poor food and lifestyle choices — and in some instances an unfortunate genetic disposition — must be confronted by forceful means, even if that means strengthening legislation. The RCPI argues that planning laws could be a powerful tool in this campaign, and suggests fast food outlets should not be opened less than 400m from schools, parks or playgrounds.
The no fry zone campaign was started by parents in Greystones, Co Wicklow, who successfully opposed plans by McDonald’s to open an outlet close to three schools. Efforts are now being made to have exclusion zones formalised through an amendment to the draft Wicklow County Development Plan, but Wicklow County Council management are opposed to the idea.
We spent decades debating with big tobacco about that industry’s catastrophic impact on public health. Let’s not do all that again, let’s do what we know is right for our children.