We live in the fattest town in Britain – we’ve been invaded by 36 chicken shops… they’ve made us into a laughing stock
Residents living in Britain’s most obese area say they have been ‘taken in’ by chicken shops – and are calling on council bosses to ban any others from opening.
The Bedfordshire town of Luton has 19 peri-peri chicken shops alone and dozens more.
And shocking statistics show the town has the worst obesity rates in the country.
It had a whopping 4,880 hospital admissions for obesity per 100,000 people in 2022/23 – the highest of anywhere in Britain.
Another shocking statistic shows that two thirds of adults in Luton are classed as overweight or obese.
One angry resident told MailOnline: ‘The town is full of obese people. It is the council’s fault.
‘They let it get out of hand. No other should be opening any time soon.’
Luton has one of the highest numbers of chicken takeaways of any town in Britain
Competing chicken shops are only a few meters away from each other and offer spicy deep-fried poultry products with a range of sauces
The figures, from the Office for Health Improvement and Inequalities, show 66.2 per cent of those in Luton were overweight or obese – up from 65 per cent five years ago.
Twenty-seven percent were obese alone.
Local residents blame this on a large number of chicken shops and other fast food outlets, which dominate the town centre.
But owners and workers defended themselves, saying they were providing a service and described Luton as the ‘golden square’ of chicken shops.
When MailOnline visited this week, many were already packed with customers this afternoon – with queues and staff running wild with business.
The streets were also full of food delivery motorbikes at that time.
Fitness fanatic George Feron, 49, said the town was ‘dominated’ by fast food outlets and overweight people.
He said: ‘It’s ruining the area and dominating it. They are everywhere.
Husband and wife John and Margaret Miskin have returned to shop in Luton for the first time in several years. Margaret, 72, said: ‘It’s been a few years since we’ve been here. It has changed a lot and not for the better’
Sasithuran Susieulelenth (40), who works at Sam’s Chicken in the town centre, said: ‘We are always packed to the rafters. ‘We are completely busy with customers. We love it. It’s wonderful. It’s great for business’
James Nolan, 65, who lives in the city centre, said: ‘Something urgently needs to be done about it. ‘I don’t think those in power care’
‘It brings the area down. Some are also nasty and disgusting and just make it look bad.
‘This should not be allowed. It’s not right. It’s a joke. But I run a business in town and it’s not funny.
‘I want this area to be vibrant and varied. Not full of chicken shops and betting shops that it is now.
‘It’s depressing. They are always very busy.
‘The town is full of obese people. It is the council’s fault.
‘They let it get out of hand. No other should be opening any time soon.’
Mr Feron, who runs a convenience store, added: ‘It’s terrible.
‘A lot of people are fat and lazy here. And that attitude is made possible by the abundance of chicken shops and fast food places.
“It’s not rocket science to say it’s going to be a big factor.”
Edward Parker, 55, has lived in Luton for 20 years and said the trend of fast food outlets was ‘appalling’.
The plumber said, ‘We are a ridiculous stock.
If anyone misses a chicken takeaway in Luton they only have a short way to go before they encounter another
Local Sami Khan, 84, said: ‘I know there are shops like this all over the country but Luton feels like it has about half the country’s worth. ‘When will something be done? There must be some kind of amnesty. stop them now’
‘It’s an invasion. Fast food places are followed by betting shops, slot machines and just junk places. There are not many gyms here.
‘It would be commercial suicide to open one. Look at all the fat people, it’s horrible.
‘It’s a ticking time bomb. There is no more hope here. The fact that there is so much easy access to unhealthy food and obesity rates are so high is clearly linked.
‘People say they would be empty if it weren’t for fast food places. Which is a point, but sure give something else a chance is what I’d say.’
Mr Parker said he had raised the issue with local councillors. He added: ‘It’s not exactly a state secret, they’re everywhere.
‘Other than a brothel, which I think would be against the law, is anything better than endless fast food places?
Some local residents have complained that the number of fast food outlets is not good for the town’s health
“They drive me crazy.”
Husband and wife John and Margaret Miskin have returned to shop in Luton for the first time in several years.
Margaret, 72, said: ‘It’s been a few years since we’ve been here. It has changed a lot and not for the better.
‘They’re everywhere aren’t they. I can’t believe how things have changed so much.’
John, 75, said: ‘It’s quite shocking how it is now. It used to be very nice.’
James Nolan, 65, who lives in the city centre, said: ‘Something urgently needs to be done about it.
“I don’t think those in power care.”
Builder Ryan Hick, 57, said he wanted something done.
The city center said, ‘Something’s got to give.
‘There is a health crisis in Luton. It is full of obese and overweight people. I am fully aware that I need to lose some weight myself, so I include myself in that.
‘But what are those in power doing? Just open chicken shop after chicken shop and fast food places everywhere.
‘It’s a downward spiral. I imagine they make a fortune. Good luck to them. It’s supply and demand.
Fitness fanatic George Feron, 49, said the town was ‘dominated’ by fast food outlets and overweight people. He said: ‘It’s ruining the area and dominating it. they are everywhere’
“But councilors in charge must surely realize that’s just insane?”
Local Sami Khan, 84, said: ‘I know there are shops like this all over the country but Luton feels like it has about half the country’s worth.
‘When will something be done? There must be some kind of amnesty. Stop them now.’
Sasithuran Susieulelenth (40), who works at Sam’s Chicken in the town centre, said: ‘We are always packed to the rafters.
‘We are completely busy with customers. We love it. It’s wonderful. It’s great for business.
‘It’s not our fault. What are we supposed to do? People have free choice about what they eat and we provide that.’
One worker at a Peri Peri Chicken said: ‘We all think it’s quite funny. Many of us are friends.
‘Luton is the golden square of chicken shops. We provide good service and give people what they want.’
A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “As a council we recognize that obesity is one of the biggest threats to health in the UK.
“The council currently has a healthier food and drink advertising policy in place which is applied across the council’s estate.
“Luton was the first council in the East of England, and the 8th council nationally to introduce a healthier food and drink advertising policy (HFDAP).
“Through its partner Total Wellbeing, the council offers free healthy lifestyle programs for adults, children and families, helping people to become more active, eat more healthily and improve their general health and wellbeing as well as specific weight management services.
“Active Luton offers a wide range of sports, swimming and leisure facilities throughout the town which aim to encourage healthy lifestyles.
“It offers special discounts to those from the more deprived areas of the town, who are more susceptible to higher levels of obesity.”