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The food environment within the primary school fringe

Rachel G. Gallo (Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Lisa Barrett (School of Biology, Food and Nutrition, School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Amelia A. Lake (Centre for Public Policy and Health, School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 29 July 2014




The school fringe environment (peripheral 400 m buffer) offers an important opportunity for young people to obtain food and drink. There is international evidence to suggest socio-economic influence on food outlet availability and healthfulness within these environments; however the situation in the UK is unclear. The purpose of this paper is to describe food outlet provision (frequency and type) within primary school fringes across the spectrum of deprivation.


Ten primary schools in Newcastle upon Tyne were purposefully selected from a comprehensive list of all schools within the region. Two schools were chosen at random from each quintile of deprivation. A total of 400-metre buffer zones around schools were audited. School fringe food environments were classified using a Food Outlet Classification System. Access (i.e. frequency), and type of food outlets were compared to area level deprivation, obesity prevalence rates and area type.


Food outlet frequency was highest in the most deprived school fringe area. Convenience stores and takeaways represented the greatest proportion of total food outlets across all school fringe environments. More total food outlets were observed in fringes with above national average obesity prevalence rates for children.

Research limitations/implications

UK case study approach limits widespread and international applicability.

Practical implications

Informs school, health and urban planning disciplines regarding current picture of UK school fringes.


Provides evidence in UK context that area deprivation and Census 2001 Supergroup class show significant correlations with school fringe food environment.



Many thanks to Tom Burgoine for his assistance in the initial stages of GIS mapping, and for RG's funders ESRC and NEPHO (funders had no input in research at any stage) and supervisors Tim Townshend and Louisa Ells.


G. Gallo, R., Barrett, L. and A. Lake, A. (2014), "The food environment within the primary school fringe", British Food Journal, Vol. 116 No. 8, pp. 1259-1275.



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