Socio-spatial variations in urban food price and availability and their implications for healthy eating

Cummins, Steven C. J (2001) Socio-spatial variations in urban food price and availability and their implications for healthy eating. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: Previous research has suggested that foods which are beneficial to health are more expensive, and more difficult to obtain, in deprived as compared to affluent areas, and that this may help to explain the greater adherence to healthy eating guidelines in more affluent areas of the UK. Recent government policy initiatives to combat poor access to healthy diets have been partly based upon studies that have investigated intra-urban spatial variations in food price and availability. However those studies which provide the evidence base for government policy are: few in number, on a very small scale, and based upon data which in light of recent changes in the food retail economy may be out of date. Aims: This study aims to rectify these problems, and to update and extend previous surveys. In doing so it addresses four main questions: Are there spatial variations in food retail provision in urban areas of the UK. Does the price and availability of food vary by type of shop in an urban area. Are there differences in food price and availability by level of deprivation in urban areas. Which is the strongest predictor of food price and availability: shop location, shop type or magnitude of area level of deprivation? Method: A survey, on foot, of the price and availability of fifty-seven food items taken from the Family Budget Unit's 'Modest but Adequate Diet' (1993) was undertaken in a random sample of food retail stores drawn from the Public Registers of Food Premises covering the Glasgow area, a large and socially heterogeneous urban centre in the West of Scotland. A response rate of 97.7% (n=250) of eligible food stores was achieved. Results: In the majority of cases, the price and availability of these food items did not significantly differ between areas at a variety of spatial scales. Those food items that did significantly differ in price were found, for the most part, to be cheaper in poorer areas. For food availability no real pattern was detected. The location of food shopping opportunities in the city was, on the whole, evenly distributed and the types of stores that present the greatest opportunities in tenns of price efficiency and food availability were evenly distributed in poorer areas. Some of those few foods that did differ significantly in price and availability were items whose consumption is discouraged in contemporary dietary guidelines. Conclusion: This project is the largest and most systematic study of spatial variations in food price and availability undertaken to date in the UK. Previous research literature has suggested that food is more expensive and less available in poorer urban areas, and that some deprived urban areas do not have adequate food shopping facilities. This study provides some evidence that this is not the case in Glasgow in the late 1990s. Changes in the food retail economy since the early to mid 1990s may have precipitated this change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Sally Macintyre
Keywords: Social research, Nutrition, Urban planning
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-72486
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:06
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 11:06

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