According to the Food Foundation, “the diets of typical British families now pose the greatest threat to their health and survival.” This threat is not spread equally among us. It is, as Henry Dimbleby writes in his introduction to the National Food Strategy: Part 1, “a peculiarity of the modern food system that the poorest sectors of society are more likely to suffer from both hunger and obesity."

The problem is not that the UK is poor and cannot afford healthy food, but that we have created an unequal and unfair food system, with levels of inequality growing wider in both health and income . It is shocking that the fifth largest economy in the world has some of the highest rates of food insecurity (those living in households unable to provide three meals a day) in Europe, while:

We might all wish to make better food choices, but the food environment – created through decisions from Government, retailers, producers, advertisers and others – “does not yet frame or push us to do so”. Whether it is those in the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, the Food Citizenship Project or the team at the World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab, experts are clear that governments need to do more in clawing back consumer spaces for people.


  1. Goisis, A., Sacker, A. and Kelly, Y. Why are Poorer Children at Higher Risk of Obesity and Overweight? A UK Cohort Study. The European Journal of Public Health, 26 (1), pp.7–13, 2015 back to text
  2. Institute of Health Equity, Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review Ten Years On, 2020 back to text
  3. ONS, Household Income Inequality, UK: Financial Year Ending 2019, 2020 back to text
  4. Afshin, A., Sur, PJ., Far,KA., et al. Health Effects of Dietary Risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet,393 (10184), 2019 back to text
  5. NHS Digital, Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019 back to text
  6. Monteiro. C., et al. Household Availability of Ultra-processed Foods and Obesity in Nineteen European Countries, Public Health Nutrition 21(1), pp 18-26, 2018
  7. Good Food Nation Survey, 2016 back to text
  8. Lang, T. Feeding Britain. back to text