LIVINGSTON has been revealed as the fast food capital of Scotland.
The new West Lothian new town has one fast food chain store for every 3,517 of its inhabitants.
It also has the highest concentration of McDonald’s per capita, with one store for every 18,756 people compared with Glasgow’s one to 27,115.
Livingston beat ten other major Scottish towns and cities to win the dubious title. Aberdeen came out best with just one fast food chain outlet per 8,481 people.
The town of 56,269 is home to three McDonald’s, one Burger King, one KFC, three Subways, four Greggs, one Domino’s and three Costa coffee outlets.
With three large shopping centres crammed into the centre, it is likely most of the fast food outlets are serving hordes of famished consumers.
The South Lanarkshire town of Hamilton was hot on the heels of Livingston, in second place with one outlet for every 3547 of its inhabitants.
The figures, researched by health website Treated.com, put Glasgow in third place based on fast food outlets per head at one for every 4,230.
The city has 141 fast food chain outlets – the largest overall number in any town or city.
It also hosts the largest number of McDonald’s (22), Subways (35) and Gregg’s (36) in the country.
In spite of an impressive 33 Greggs, Edinburgh ranked just 7th on the list. Dundee followed in 8th place
The new town of Cumbernald was also ranked as a surprisingly “healthy” town. In spite of its location, just 18 miles north-west of Livingston, and with similar population sizes, Cumbernauld came in second-to-last place with one chain outlet per 6,395 of its citizens.
Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said of Livingston’s high number of fast food outlets: “Local councils pleaded for the recent Queen’s Speech to help them curb chain restaurants opening anywhere they please. They wanted legislation to empower them to do so but to their fury their plea was passed over.
“The outcome is inevitable. They will find it harder to prevent fast food outlets becoming even more of a blight on high streets and targeting the poorest areas of any town, such as Livingston, with junk food.
“Scotland’s obesity problem will only get worse until such regulation is imposed “.
The study examined the numbers of seven popular fast food retailers in Scotland’s ten largest towns and cities.
By looking at the number of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, KFCs, Subway, Greggs, Domino’s and Costa outlets in comparison to the population, researchers were able to locate the nation’s fast food hotspots.
Fast food and obesity are major concerns for Scotland’s government.
2013 figures showed that almost two thirds of Scottish adults were overweight, with a staggering 27.1% classed as obese.
Officials have put the official cost of obesity to the Scottish NHS as high as £600m every year.
And earlier this year a parliamentary report claimed that obesity could be costing the Scottish economy up to £4.6bn overall.
The research concentrated on big-name fast food chains and ignored independently-run chip shops and cafes.
Dr Wayne Osborne, who led the study, warned: ‘The main attraction of fast food chains is their convenience. They’re most often situated on the busy main streets, and for many they’re the safe, recognisable bet in train stations and airports.
“But the simpler options aren’t always the healthiest. It’s no secret that fast food is generally high in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure.”
A McDonald’s spokeswoman said: “We choose locations for our restaurants based on a number of factors about the viability of a new business opening in the area.
“These factors include the size of the available site, total population of the area and therefore likely footfall, traffic levels and accessibility for drive thrus where relevant.”
A spokeswoman for Greggs said they recently introduced a range that provides customers with an increased choice of sandwiches, salads, soups, porridge and fruit, which are all fewer than 400 calories.
The spokeswoman added: “They also meet amber and green on the Food Standards Agency traffic light system for fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.”