The impact of hot food takeaways near schools in the UK on childhood obesity: a systematic review of the evidence

J Public Health (Oxf). 2019 Jun 1;41(2):231-239. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy048.


Background: Obesity is the greatest health issue for this generation; schools have improved food offered within their grounds. The built environment surrounding schools and pupils' journeys home have not received the same level of attention. This review identified papers on impacts of hot food takeaways surrounding schools in the UK.

Methods: Methods were informed by the PRISMA (QUORUM) guidelines for systematic reviews. Searches were completed in 12 databases.

Results: A total of 14 papers were included and quality assured before data extraction. Three descriptive themes were found; descriptions of hot food takeaway's geography and impacts concerning schools, strategic food policy and pupils reported food behaviour.

Conclusions: Most included studies compared anthropometric measures with geographical location of hot food takeaways to find correlations between environment and childhood obesity. There was good evidence of more hot food takeaways in deprived areas and children who spend time in deprived neighbourhoods tend to eat more fast food and have higher BMIs. Few studies were able to quantify the correlation between school's environment and obesity amongst pupils. This lack of evidence is likely a factor of the studies' ability to identify the correlation rather than lack of a correlation between the two variables.

Keywords: fast food; food environment; obesity; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects*
  • Fast Foods / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology