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Hillary J. Shaw

Obesity and poor diet are major policy issues in Britain today due to the health costs imposed on society. Barriers to healthy eating may include distance to shops selling fresh produce, inability to purchase these often-more-expensive foods, and lack of knowledge of how to prepare and cook such foodstuffs. In urban areas of Britain, the ethnic background of consumers may affect their ability to pay and the physical access they have to various types of food retailing. Another factor moderating diet is time; namely, the time taken to travel to shops and to prepare nutritious household food. Urban structure impinges on all of these factors and, through factors of ethnicity and employment, the affordability of food and food knowledge possessed by households. In this chapter, two cities of contrasting urban structure and ethnicity, Leicester and Stoke on Trent, are compared. Using partial correlations and fieldwork, urban structure is shown to have a strong influence on both diet and obesity. This analysis suggests several areas where policy measures can assist less affluent households to eat more healthily, reducing the social costs of obesity.