More than a million people live in “food deserts” – areas where poor transport links, poverty and a lack of supermarkets limits access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, a study has claimed.
A report by Social Market Foundation has found that one in ten deprived areas in England and Wales were “food deserts”.
A survey done as part of the research also found that one in eight (12%) of individuals stated that “not being near a supermarket offering healthy food at low prices” was a barrier to being able to eat more healthily.
These “food deserts” include the Marsh Farm estate in Luton, the Southampton Way estate in South London, and Swarcliffe in Leeds. In Scotland, estates such as Easterhouse in Glasgow were identified as food deserts.
Disabled and elderly people are disproportionately affected as they are not physically capable of travelling to bigger supermarkets further afield, the study added.
‘A supermarket offering affordable healthy food’
Scott Corfe, the lead author of the report has said these “food deserts” are often deprived areas such as out-of-town council estates with limited public transport.
Mr Corfe told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “The point we make in this research is that there is a segment of the population that does have difficulty accessing a supermarket offering affordable healthy food.
“Quite often these people are in deprived areas. Some of the areas we identify in our report are out-of-town council estates.
“These aren’t always served very well by public transport. The only types of food stores in immediate walking distances are small convenience stores or newsagents, which typically charge higher prices for the food that they do sell and in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables the options are quite limited.”