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Understanding foodscapes

Things got so busy towards the end of 2019 that I forgot to share a very important piece of work that I contributed to. Sorry! The study is about understanding how the built environment influences our interactions with food. In particular, this study investigates two specific communities of South London to understand new ways of how we can address childhood obesity.

Nearly 40% of London’s children are overweight or obese, with
the highest rates occurring in the areas of greatest deprivation – The London Obesity Taskforce

The Mayor of London has shown commitment to tackling obesity in
London, with focus on the growing rates of childhood obesity. There is
increasing knowledge on the diverse factors that influence obesity, and
for this reason Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has been funding projects
and initiatives that holistically combat childhood obesity.


The onus of the increasingly global obesity epidemic has traditionally been
put on individual people. However, more recently, research has identified
the role our environment and historic urban planning practices have
played in growing obesity trends. Gehl’s approach to studying public life
and public space can expand knowledge within current systems thinking
approaches by interpreting the factors that influence how people engage
with their surrounding foodscape.


This foodscape study analysed the wards of Camberwell Green and
Peckham Rye in Southwark. Both wards have similar demographics and
socio-economic makeup, but differ in child obesity rates. High streets
are the heart of these wards, where most life exists, namely around
public transit hubs, yet opportunities for public life are limited.

This study outlines findings on: 1. the character of places young people
spend the most time 2. the role of transport hubs in everyday public life the way in which fast food places have become civic beacons for all.
Through understanding where and how young people use the foodscape,
we can design, programme, and create invitations that promote new
opportunities and behaviours.

You can find the entire study here.

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