Take Aways: Why Does Location Matter?

Take Aways: Why Does Location Matter?

Fast food is a broad term which covers a range of foods that can be easily and quickly bought and eaten. Today in the UK, fast food holds a cemented place in the diet of many households, as many believe they provide an easier and quicker alternative to food shopping, preparation and cooking.

Furthermore, the growth of the fast food industry and smart phone apps such as Just Eat and Hungry House means ordering and consuming fast food is easier than ever, not to mention advertising slogans such as “Don’t cook, Just Eat” which discourages home-cooking entirely – therefore it is no coincidence that 1/3 Britons consume at least one takeaway every week.

There is also great concern regarding the accessibility and number of fast food outlets appearing in more deprived areas and around schools, with one study suggesting those exposed to a greater number of fast food outlets are 80% more likely to be obese than those who are less exposed.

Data published by Public Health England in October displays the density of fast food outlets per 100,000 population throughout local authorities in England. It is clear to see that the North of the country has a greater density of fast food outlets compared to the South, highlighting the health inequalities so commonly seen between the two parts of the country, in terms of life expectancy and prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Furthermore, the average fast food outlet density in England is 88/100,000 – however, in the likes of Blackpool it is a staggering 192.9/100,000, the 2nd greatest density in England, with a total of 271. In Manchester, density is 142.6/100,000 with a shocking total of 752 outlets in the area, 106 of which found in the City Centre ward and a further 49 found in Ancoats and Clayton ward.

The data also shows a correlation between area deprivation and number of take-aways, an example is Talbot in Blackpool, as the ward with the greatest number of fast-food outlets in the local authority, it is classed as one of the most deprived wards in the town. Henceforth this data highlights the link between deprivation and increased access to energy-dense, nutrient poor foods which consequently lead to an increased risk of developing NCDs.

Whilst Blackpool has a problem with the concentration of fast food outlets, the local authority has recognised these issues and in January signed up to the Local Government Declaration on Healthy Weight, developed by Food Active. This declaration means the authority commits to addressing public health issues which make it more difficult for people to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Hence, Blackpool authority has committed to limiting access to unhealthy food choices in public institutions, consider additional guidance to fast food outlets and provide support to promote the growth of healthier retailers in deprived areas. Other local authorities should follow in Blackpool’s footsteps and sign up to the Local Government Declaration on Healthy Weight to ensure they are doing all they can to secure a healthy food and physical environment for their communities.


Further Reading:

Maguire, E.R., Burgione, T and Monsivais, P. (2015). Area deprivation and the food environment over time: a repeated cross-sectional study on takeaway outlet density and supermarket presence in Norfolk 1990-2008. Health Place. V.33, pp.142.147.

Evans, N. (2011). Takeaway Food: a briefing paper [online]. Available at: http://www.hegroup.org.uk/images/resources/Takeaway_Foo_A_Briefing_Paper.pdf [Accessed: 31st Oct 2016].

Our Life. (2015). Takeaway Factsheet – Our Life Policy Research [online]. Available at: http://www.limeconsultancy.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/takeaways-factsheet.pdf [Accessed 31st Oct 2016].



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