Socioeconomic inequalities in fast-food access through a leading online food delivery service in England: a cross sectional ecological analysis.

Authors: Matthew Keeble*, University of Cambridge, Thomas Burgoine, University of Cambridge, Jean Adams, University of Cambridge
Topics: Food Systems, Population Geography
Keywords: Fast food, Food access, Food delivery, Online takeaways, Public health
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Online food delivery services like Uber Eats allow customers to purchase fast-food online and therefore, facilitate food outlet access. Physical food outlet access is greater in less affluent areas of England, with greater access associated with more frequent fast-food consumption. Online services may increase food outlet access and exacerbate inequalities in outlet exposure.

Our study investigated food outlet access through the leading online food delivery service (Just Eat), and inequalities therein, across postcode districts in England (N=2118). We identified the number of food outlets that would deliver to populations living at the geographic centre of each postcode district and calculated food outlet access relative to the physical food environment (1-mile Euclidean buffers around postcode district centroids).

In November 2019, 29,232 food outlets across England were signed-up to the online food delivery service. Using adjusted negative binomial regression, we predicted that 50% more food outlets would deliver to populations in the most (n=106.1), compared to the least (n=70.4), deprived postcode districts. Through an adjusted general linear model we predicted that populations living in the least deprived postcode districts would have the greatest increase in food outlet access relative to the physical food environment (86.2%; 95% CI: 78.6, 93.7).

Our findings suggest that online food outlet access in England is socioeconomically patterned. More food outlets would deliver to the most deprived areas, but the greatest relative increase in access was in the least deprived areas. Further research is required to understand how online food outlet access may influence fast-food consumption and health.

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