A tale of two cities: A study of access to food, lessons for public health practice
Using Preston (UK) as a focus, this study maps food access in the city in order to determine access, availability and affordability of healthy food options. The article emphasizes the importance of urban planning policy to ensure access to a range of essential services, including a choice of healthy affordable food outlets, by maintaining the viability of local and district centres. This clearly needs to be linked with transport planning and priority communities groups identified. Through surveys and interviews the results demonstrate that in some areas there are more fast food outlets than general groceries outlets. In areas with a high South Asian population there are more local shops selling affordable food compared to white working class areas. Local area agreements between health agencies and local authorities can offer a way forward, in that they can take into account the expressed needs of local residents. There is a need to engage with the location of shops in urban areas, to ensure they offer a healthy range of options and are sited near to where people live. In addition the number of fast food outlets needs to be controlled and the food they offer improved.