Living in a ‘fat swamp’: exposure to multiple sources of accessible, cheap, energy-dense fast foods in a deprived community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Patrick Saunders
  • Annie Saunders
  • J Middleton


This study assesses the levels of fats, including trans-fatty acids, and salt in common takeaway fast foods in a deprived urban municipality in the West Midlands, England, and implications in the context of the spatial distribution of fast food takeaways. The results of the compositional analysis of over 250 take-out foods were compared with established and derived standards. About 70 % of products exceeded the recommendation that a meal should contain less than 30 % of a Guideline Daily Amount (GDA). More than half of them exceeded 50 % GDA for at least one metric, including 81 % of all analyses for SFA. And 17 % of samples exceeded the GDA for SFA, including each of two meals that contained about twice the GDA. Over 30 % samples exceeded the children's GDA for total fat or SFA. 27 % of salt analyses exceeded the GDA. People in Sandwell are exposed to large portion sizes and high levels of fats and salt in takeaway foods, with levels in some foods having increased since 2010. Given this population's limited options to break out of a highly compromising environment of living simultaneously in a ‘swamp’ of unhealthy, readily accessible and cheap takeaways, and a ‘desert’ of healthy options, an immediate and innovative package of interventions is required.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1828-1834
Number of pages7
JournalThe British journal of nutrition
Issue number11
Early online date17 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015