Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – Local community nutrition

Socio-economic differences in outdoor food advertising in a city in Northern England

Jean Adamsa1 c1, Ellie Ganitia1 and Martin Whitea1

a1 Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Baddiley-Clark Building, Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AX, UK


Objective To explore differences in the prevalence of outdoor food advertising, and the type and nutritional content of advertised foods, according to an area-based marker of socio-economic position (SEP) in a city in Northern England.

Design All outdoor advertisements in the city were identified during October–December 2009, their size (in m2) estimated and their location determined using a global positioning system device. Advertisements were classified as food or non-food. Food advertisements were classified into one of six food categories. Information on the nutritional content of advertised foods was obtained from packaging and manufacturer's websites. An area-based marker of SEP was assigned using the location of each advertisement, grouped into three affluence tertiles for analysis.

Setting A city in Northern England.

Subjects None.

Results In all, 1371 advertisements were identified; 211 (15 %) of these were for food. The advertisements covered 6765 m2, of which 1326 m2 (20 %) was for food. Total advertising and food advertising space was largest in the least affluent tertile. There was little evidence of socio-economic trends in the type or nutritional content of advertised foods.

Conclusions Despite an absence of socio-economic differences in the type and nutritional content of advertised foods, there were socio-economic differences in food advertising space. There may also be socio-economic differences in exposure to outdoor food advertising.

(Received July 29 2010)

(Accepted October 20 2010)

(Online publication January 04 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: