Knowledge for better food systems

10 million Brits live in “food deserts”

A quarter of survey respondents claim that healthy and nutritious food in the UK is too expensive, while 10 million people live in “food deserts”, according to a report by London-based think tank the Social Market Foundation. The report examined three barriers to healthy eating: prices, affordability (relative to income) and access to food stores.

17% of the respondents find food to be a strain on their finances, 23% said they had bought cheaper and less healthy food in response to high food prices, and 10% said they had eaten less so that others in their family, such as children, could eat more.

The report defines “food deserts” as areas poorly served by food stores, where people without a car may find it hard to “easily access a wide range of healthy, affordable food products”. The figure below shows areas classed a food deserts in red and food oases (with better access to food) in green.

Image: Figure 9 of report “What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?”

Read the full report, “What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?”, here. See also the Foodsource building block What is food security?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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