Fast-food, everyday life and health: A qualitative study of 'chicken shops' in East London

Claire Thompson, Ruth Ponsford, Daniel Lewis, Steven Cummins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


The higher prevalence of fast food outlets in deprived areas has been associated with the production and maintenance of geographical inequalities in diet. In the UK one type of fast food outlet - the 'chicken shop' - has been the focus of intense public health and media interest. Despite ongoing concerns and initiatives around regulating these establishments, the 'chicken shop' is both a commercially successful and ubiquitous feature of disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. However, little is known about how they are perceived by local residents. We report data from a qualitative study of neighbourhood perceptions in a low SES urban setting. Narrative family interviews, go-along interviews and school video focus group workshops with 66 residents of East London were conducted over two waves. The topic of chicken shops was a prolific theme and a narrative analysis of these accounts revealed that local perceptions of chicken shops are complex and contradictory. Chicken shops were depicted as both potentially damaging for the health of local residents and, at the same time, as valued community spaces. This contradiction was discursively addressed in narrative via a series of rhetorical rebuttals that negated their potential to damage health on the grounds of concepts such as trust, choice, balance, food hygiene and compensatory physical activity. In some instances, chicken shops were described as 'healthy' and patronising them constructed as part of a healthy lifestyle. Chicken shops are embedded in the social fabric of neighbourhoods. Successful strategies to improve diet therefore requires context-sensitive environmental interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Child
  • Diet/psychology
  • Family/psychology
  • Fast Foods
  • Feeding Behavior/psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • London
  • Male
  • Poultry
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics/statistics & numerical data
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Vulnerable Populations/psychology


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