Food prepared outside of the home tends to be higher in total energy, fat, and salt, than food prepared at home. Greater consumption of food prepared outside of the home, from takeaway food outlets for example, has been associated with poor health. Previous research has focused on in-person food purchasing from a limited range of outlets. However, online food ordering and home delivery services including Deliveroo and Just Eat offer alternative purchasing formats and could influence how frequently food prepared outside of the home is purchased.
To improve the public’s health, there have been attempts to change access to food outlets in the built food environment through urban planning regulations, and proposals for mandatory provision of calorie information on menus inside outlets. Online food ordering and delivery services are not subject to these approaches, and if using this purchasing format increases as predicted by market research analysts, they could be undermined.
The aim of this project is to develop an understanding about online food ordering and delivery services. Across multiple work packages, how frequently online food ordering and delivery services are used and by whom, reasons for choosing this purchasing format, and the extent to which these services provide access to food and inequalities therein, will be explored. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes to the purchase and consumption of food prepared outside of the home, the reactions and adaptations from different stakeholders across the out of home food sector will also be investigated.
A combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches will be used throughout the project. Quantitative analysis of online survey data collected from adults in Australia, Canada, Mexico, the UK and USA was completed in April 2020. Semi-structured telephone interviews with frequent online food ordering and delivery service customers were completed between June and August 2020, whilst geospatial analysis to map access to food outlets signed up to accept orders through online services, automated data collection, and systems mapping is ongoing and will be used in the future.
Initial findings from work completed as part of this project were disseminated during a live presentation at the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity XChange Initiative in June 2020, and through the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in July 2020. Findings from future work will also be disseminated through international conferences, academic journals, and social media. Furthermore, findings will be presented during webinars and at public science events.
To ensure that this project has salience and relevance, professionals from Public Health England have been involved in the development of research questions and provided professional expertise. They will continue to provide guidance until project completion.
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Keeble, M., Adams, J., Bishop, T., Burgoine, T. Socioeconomic inequalities in food outlet access through an online food delivery service in England: a cross-sectional descriptive analysis. Applied Geography. Vol. 133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2021.102498