Understanding interactions with the food environment: an exploration of supermarket food shopping routines in deprived neighbourhoods

Claire Thompson, Steven Cummins, Tim Brown, Rosemary Kyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Despite a sustained academic interest in the environmental determinants of diet, relatively little is known about the ways in which individuals interact with their neighbourhood food environment and the use of its most important element, the supermarket. This qualitative study explores how residents of deprived neighbourhoods shop for food and how the supermarket environment influences their choices. Go-along interviews were conducted with 26 residents of Sandwell, a uniformly deprived metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, UK. Routine approaches to food shopping are characterised in terms of planning and reliance on the supermarket environment. Four distinct routines are identified: chaotic and reactive; working around the store; item-by-item; and restricted and budgeted. This suggests that residents of deprived neighbourhoods do not have uniform responses to food environments. Responses to supermarket environments appear to be mediated by levels of individual autonomy. A better understanding of how residents of deprived neighbourhoods interact with their food environment may help optimise environmental interventions aimed at improving physical access to food in these places.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-23
Number of pages8
JournalHealth & Place
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Commerce
  • Female
  • Food Industry/economics
  • Food Supply/economics
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observation
  • Poverty Areas
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics/classification
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


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