PUBLIC Health England says councils including Swindon’s should restrict the number of takeaways within 400 metres of schools and playgrounds.

It says doing this will help to tackle the growing - no pun intended - scourge of childhood obesity.

What a brilliant idea! It really gets to the core of the problem and is impeccably logical.

Is it any wonder that the people who come up with schemes like this are on such good money? They deserve every penny.

Restricting the numbers of fast food joints within 400 metres of a school or playground is completely foolproof.

After all, only a tiny number of children and young people live more than 400 metres from their school, and even those who do live more than 400 metres away won’t be tempted by fast food outside the 400-metre protective buffer.

No, they’ll be too excited about the day’s lessons to think about buying fast food on the way to school, and they won’t want any on the way back because they’ll be too anxious to watch Blue Peter and do their homework.

“But what about lunchtime?” I hear you ask.

Well, that’s where the plan really shines. You see, it takes at least five minutes for a child or young person to walk 400 metres, which is the equivalent of one whole lap of a standard running track.

They won’t want to do that. “No point in going for chips and burgers and sausage rolls and fizzy drinks now,” they’ll say. “I really can’t be bothered to walk because the trip might take as long as 300 seconds each way.

“No, I’ll go round the corner to the health food shop and buy some salad, dried apricots and ethically-packaged spring water infused with an intriguing soupcon of cucumber instead.”

This is all so much better than the other ways in which childhood obesity might be tackled.

Some people, for example, believe a more sensible option than making fast food harder for children to get at would be to concentrate on explaining why eating the stuff all the time might not be a good idea.

They believe in lesson plans along the lines of: “Explain that young people who ram burgers and chips down their thoraxes every damned day are likely to end up very poorly or very dead. Explain, in fact, that turning your heart into a weakly-pulsating blob of lard is a great way of being outlived by your parents.”

Unfortunately, doing that might give the young people nightmares.

Another frequent suggestion for dealing with the problem is empowering schools to simply forbid fast food on their premises and, if necessary, forbid students to leave the premises during the school day without a verified note from their parents.

While well-intentioned, this is also a non-starter, as it might cause certain parents to say things on social media about their children’s human right to eat themselves into early graves being infringed.

Some of those parents might even appear at the school gates during break times and attempt to hand chips, pies and suchlike to their offspring.

Clearly, there would be absolutely no way of preventing them from doing so.

It’s not as if schools have any legal powers whatsoever.

No, the only viable solution is the one demanded by Public Health England.

The obesity problem among people who eat too much fast food is clearly caused by the fast food itself and not the fact that some people eat too much of it, so trying to educate those people to take control of their own destinies is absolutely pointless.

And besides, imposing potentially unworkable blanket restrictions on where everybody, obese or not, can buy and sell certain types of food is a lot less of a faff.