A new study from the Geographic Data Science Lab has revealed new insights into the level of access to different food options.

On average, individuals in Great Britain are roughly 1.41 km or 1 and a half minutes (driving time) from their nearest fast food outlet. 24% of postcodes in Great Britain were located less than 1 km of a fast food outlet and 52% within 5 km (or roughly 6 minutes 10 seconds driving time).

While individuals were located on average closer to a convenience store (0.72 km) or a supermarket (0.98 km) which typically offer healthier choices; 40.7% of postcodes were located nearer to a fast food outlet than a supermarket, and 17.1% than to either a supermarket or convenience store.

Access also was not evenly spread across Great Britain – rural areas have consistently poorer access since many of these amenities are found closer to urban populations.

Using data only for England we can see that there was also a social element to patterns. For example, if you lived in the least deprived 10% of neighbourhoods then you are over twice as far (2.3 times greater) from a fast food outlet than if you lived in the most deprived 10% of areas. When compared to other sources of food (1.67 times further for convenience stores and 1.49 times further for supermarkets), it becomes evident that exposure to fast food is strongly socially patterned.

48.6% of postcodes in the most deprived 10% of areas were located nearer to a fast food outlet than a supermarket (compared to 27.9% in the least deprived 10%), and 23.0% were closer compared to a supermarket or convenience store (12.7% in the least deprived 10%).

Data can be freely accessed at http://maps.cdrc.ac.uk and downloaded from http://data.cdrc.ac.uk.