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Within: Food Poverty

Related to: Barriers to Healthy Eating – Financial Factors, Barriers to Healthy Eating –Social FactorsDiet and Malnutrition, Socio-economic Inequality, Cost of Living, Child Poverty, Children and Young People, Eating Disorders, Life Expectancy, Healthy Weight, Physical Activity, Wellbeing, Diabetes Stroke, Coronary Heart Disease, Cancer

Key Facts:

  • Some rural and urban neighbourhoods in Bath and North East Somerset have little or no food retail provision of fruit and vegetables.
  • Evidence indicates that exposure to fast food outlets in home, work and commuting environments is associated with higher consumption of takeaway food and an increase likelihood of being overweight. 

A range of physical factors can affect people’s food choices and their ability to access nutritious food. These factors include distance, access and transport to shops that sell fresh and nutritious food and the availability of healthy and unhealthy food options. 

What does the data say?

Location, distance and access to food shops

Research into the link between food retail provision and dietary intake is relatively undeveloped however some studies suggest that access and transport to shops that sell affordable, healthy food can influence people’s ability to access foods that comprise a healthy diet 1. A study by Caldwell et al. in 2009 suggest that people living in areas with shops and markets selling a wide range of affordable, fresh produce eat more fruit and vegetables than those living in areas with limited supply. 2

Additional studies in Cardiff and Leeds found that easy access to newly-built supermarkets selling a range of competitively priced- nutritious food was associated with improved diets. 3  4

In Bath and North East Somerset numerous residential properties are located 500m or more from a food shop (approximately 10 minute walk) (see figure 1). Access to fresh food may be a particular issue for these residents who have limited mobility, are reliant on public transport and/ or are on a low income.  Physical access to good quality food is not just about location but includes other factors such as cost, opening and delivery times, acceptability and awareness and transport.

Figure 1: Residential properties located 500metres or more from a food retail store in Bath and North East Somerset by LSOA 5

Click here to see a larger image of figure 1

Please note - This map only includes food shops and supermarkets and does not include other food outlets such as street stalls, markets and online retail services. The map does not include data on the types and quality of foods sold. A distance of 500 metres between residential properties and food – stores has been used in line with proximity thresholds in relevant academic research 6

Fast food consumption

Fast food consumption is associated with increased BMI, the likelihood of obesity and body fat ratios. 7.   Consumption of takeaway food is more likely for children in deprived households  8 Food bought out of the home may also come in larger portions 9

Research on the effects of fast food availability is challenging given the number of factors involved. Results have been mixed, with some studies finding links between proximity to outlets and poor health outcomes, and others finding none. 10 11 12 One large-scale study looking at fast food in three locations (neighbourhoods, commuting and near work) found that the density of outlets across sites correlated with increased fast food consumption and exposure to multiple outlets during the day was strongly associated with higher BMI and risk of obesity. 13  14 15

The concentration of fast food outlets and takeaways varies by local authority in England and there is a strong association between deprivation and the density of fast food outlets (see figure 2). 16 17

Figure 2: Concentration of fast food outlets by local authority area in England 18 

Click here to see a larger image of figure 2

In Bath and North East Somerset there was an average of 70 outlets per 100,000 population in 2014. This was lower than the UK national average of 88 fast food takeaways per 100,000 population. Annual monitoring of fast-food takeaways is needed to inform policy making and prevent over-clustering in the future.19 

Figure 3: Fast Food Outlets in B&NES in 2014 20

Click here to see a larger image of figure 3

Please note -This map is based on Public Protection food business data. Fast Food businesses include all food  businesses selling hot takeaway food.

Fast Food Outlets and Schools

In recent years a number of local authorities have successfully developed planning guidance to prevent the proliferation of hot food takeaways on sites close to schools or other youth amenities in certain areas. Research on the effects of food outlets near schools has found mixed results. 21  Other premises that sell food near schools (i.e. supermarkets, newsagents, off- licences etc) could also affect young people’s dietary intake.

Are we meeting the needs?

B&NES Local Food Partnership

A multi-agency Local Food Partnership has been set up by Bath and North East Somerset Council to oversee the implementation of the Bath and North East Somerset Local Food Strategy and to co-ordinate action on food issues across the Council and the district. The vision of the Partnership is for B&NES to be a place where everyone can access good quality, safe, affordable food and enjoy a healthy diet, with more locally produced food that sustains the environment and supports the local economy. 

B&NES Council and partners are delivering the following interventions to increase the accessibility of fresh, healthy and nutritious food:

Eat out, Eat Well Award

The Eat Out Eat Well Award is designed to encourage food outlets to provide their customers with healthier choices and to support them to reduce the fat, salt and sugar content of food prepared. The award has three levels – bronze, silver and gold - and is based on a scoring system that takes into account the type of food on offer, cooking methods and promotion of healthy choices to customers. To obtain a gold award key members of staff are also required to undertake accredited training in nutrition.  The award scheme is open to all types of food outlets including restaurants, cafes, takeaways and work settings. There are currently 82 businesses in B&NES with an “Eat Out Eat Well“ award and there is a target of enlisting 20% of High Street food outlets by 2019 (B&NES Council Public Protection Team 2016). 

Healthy Eating in Schools

Bath and North East Somerset Council have put in place a Food Forum to support all aspects of food in schools, colleges and early year settings including initiatives to support the provision of free school meals for infants, to provide healthier diets for children and to support the provision of food education and activities. The Food Forum supports the provision of healthier food for children by supporting educational settings to implement the school food standards and to sign up and work towards the healthy eating requirements of the Director of Public Health Award (DPHA). In B&NES 25 schools currently hold the DPHA “healthy schools certificate” and 37 have achieved it since the award programme began in 2012 (47%). A further 11 schools and the FE college have chosen healthy eating as a focus for their work towards the “healthy outcomes certificate” choosing activities such as increasing the number of children eating school meals, and providing cooking and food growing education in school. Academies do not have to enforce the statutory school food standards however they are being supported to sign up voluntarily to the standards. 

Healthy Eating in Workplaces: Workplace, wellbeing charter

The Workplace Wellbeing Charter is a scheme for employers to demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their workforce.  The Charter includes a number of priority themes including healthy eating.  Within this theme support and guidance is provided to support workplaces to implement interventions including promotion of healthy options, improvements to dining environments and the development and adoption of corporate healthy food plans. The scheme was launched in Autumn 2014 and has supported 12 large businesses to sign up to the charter. 

For other interventions see Barriers to Healthy Eating – Financial Factors and Barriers to Healthy Eating – Social Factors. 

  • 1. Bowyer, S., Caraher, M., Ellbert, K.,Car – Hill, R. (2009) Shopping for food: lessons from a London borough, British Food Journal, Vol. 111 Iss: 5, pp.452 – 474
  • 2. Caldwell, E., Kobayashi, M., DuBow, W and Wytinck, S. (2009) Perceived access to fruit and vegetables associated with increased consumption. Public Health Nutrition; 12 (10) 1743 – 1750.
  • 3. Guy, C (2004) Neighbourhood retailing and food poverty: a case study in Cardiff. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management 32 (12): 577 – 81
  • 4. Wrigley, N., Warm, D., Margetts, B.(2003)Deprivation, diet and food – retail access: findings from the Leeds “food deserts” study. Environment and Planning; 35 151 – 188
  • 5. Research and Intelligence Team, (2014) Bath and North East Somerset Council.
  • 6. MacDonald, L., Ellaway, A., Ball, K., Macintyre, S. (2011) Is proximity to a food retail store associated with diet and BMI in Glasgow, Scotland? BioMedCentral; 11 (464)
  • 7. Fraser, L.K., Clarke, G.P., Cade, J.E., & Edwards, K.L. (2012) Fast food and obesity: a spatial analysis in a large United Kingdom population of children aged 13–15. American journal of preventive medicine, 42 (5): e77-e85.
  • 8. Adams, J., Goffe, L., Brown, T., Lake, A.A., Summerbell, C., White, M. & Adamson, A.J. (2015) Frequency and socio-demographic correlates of eating meals out and take-away meals at home: cross-sectional analysis of the UK national diet and nutrition survey, waves 1-4 (2008-12) International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12 (1): 51
  • 9. Saunders, P., Saunders, A., & Middleton, J. (2015) Living in a ‘fat swamp’: exposure to multiple sources of accessible, cheap, energy-dense fast foods in a deprived community. British Journal of Nutrition, 113 (11): 1828-1834
  • 10. Cetateanu, A. & Jones, A. (2014) Understanding the relationship between food environments, deprivation and childhood overweight and obesity: evidence from a cross sectional England-wide study. Health & Place, 27: 68-76
  • 11. Fleischhacker, S.E., Evenson, K.R., Rodriguez, D.A., & Ammerman, A.S. (2011) A systematic review of fast food access studies. Obesity Reviews, 12 (5): e460-e471.
  • 12. Patterson, R., Risby, A. & Chan, M.Y. (2012) Consumption of takeaway and fast food in a deprived inner London Borough: are they associated with childhood obesity?. British Medical Journal open, 2 (3): e000402
  • 13. Burgoine, T., Forouhi, N.G., Griffin, S.J., Wareham, N.J. & Monsivais, P. (2014) Associations between exposure to takeaway food outlets, takeaway food consumption, and body weight in Cambridgeshire, UK: population based, cross sectional study. British Medical Journal, 348: g1464 
  • 14. Public Health (2014) Healthy people, healthy places briefing Obesity and the environment: regulating the growth of fast food outlets (Online) (Accessed 01/05/2014)
  • 15. Public Health England (2014) Obesity and the Environment; Fast Food Outlets
  • 16. Public Health (2014) Healthy people, healthy places briefing Obesity and the environment: regulating the growth of fast food outlets (Online)  (Accessed 01/05/2014)
  • 17. Public Health England (2014) Obesity and the Environment; Fast Food Outlets (Online)  (Accessed 2nd April 2016)
  • 18. Public Health England (2016) Obesity and the environment Density of fast food outlets (Online) (Accessed 13/12/2016)
  • 19. Public Health England (2016) Obesity and the environment Density of fast food outlets (Online) (Accessed 13/12/2016)
  • 20. Research and Intelligence Team (2014) In-house mapping, Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • 21. Moorhouse, J., Kapetanaki, A. and Wills, W.J. (2016) Within Arm’s Reach: School Neighbourhoods and Young People’s Food Choices. Food Research Collaboration