A ground-breaking commission looking into how to improve health in Liverpool has called for health impact assessments for planning applications to help fight obesity and alcohol-related problems.

The proposals could lead to applications for new fast food premises, off-licences and pubs being refused because of their potential impact on the area's health.

The Health is Wealth Commission was set up to examine the discrepancy between the Liverpool area's economic boom and the poor health status of many people, and to look for innovative ways of improving this.

Liverpool primary care trust chair Gideon Ben-Tovim, who sat on the commission, said the assessment could be done within the existing powers of local authorities.

He said: "Commissioners were quite shocked by the growing alcohol problems in the city.

"We are interested in using local legislation, local licensing and planning to influence the health field.

"The next phase is to shape some of our work into recommendations which we as partners are going to take forward."

He anticipated opposition from companies but said the PCT had a good record of working with employers.

Ideas put forward in an interim report include a world-class institute in Liverpool to study local health improvements, which would involve Liverpool University and the city's PCT; putting health and well-being at the centre of urban planning; a procurement concordat, which would see major public and private bodies signing up to buy goods and services from local suppliers and renewed - but sensitive - efforts to get people on incapacity benefit back to work.

Commission chair Sue Woodward highlighted dependency on benefits, increasing alcohol misuse, inequality and deprivation as problems and said the time was right to "stand up and face the elephant in the room".