Socio-economic patterning of food and drink advertising at public transport stops in Edinburgh, UK


Robertson T, Jepson R, Lambe K, Olsen J & Thornton L (2022) Socio-economic patterning of food and drink advertising at public transport stops in Edinburgh, UK. Public Health Nutrition, 25 (5), pp. 1131-1139.

Objective: Outdoor advertisements for food and drink products form a large part of the food environment and they disproportionately promote unhealthy products. However, less is known about the social patterning of such advertisements. The main aim of this study was to explore the socioeconomic patterning of food and drink advertising at bus stops in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Design: Bus stop advertisements were audited to identify food/drink adverts and classify them by food/drink category (i.e. ‘advert category’). This data was then linked to area-based deprivation and proximity measures. Neighbourhood deprivation was measured using the bus stop x/y co-ordinates, which were converted to postcodes to identify the matching 2012 deprivation level via the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Distance to schools and leisure centres were also collected using location data. Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) and linear regression analyses were used to assess associations between the promotion of advert categories and deprivation and proximity to schools/leisure centres, respectively. Setting: Edinburgh city, United Kingdom Results: 561 food/drink advertisements were identified across 349 bus stops, with eight advertisement categories noted and included in the final analysis, including alcohol, fast food outlets and confectionary. The majority of adverts were for ‘unhealthy’ food and drink categories, however there was no evidence for any socioeconomic patterning of these advertisements. There was no evidence of a relationship between advertisements and proximity to schools and leisure centres. Conclusions: While there is no evidence for food and drink advertising being patterned by neighbourhood deprivation, the scale of unhealthy advertising is an area for policy evaluations and interventions on the control of such outdoor advertising.

advertising; marketing; unhealthy commodities; inequalities; deprivation; spatial

Public Health Nutrition: Volume 25, Issue 5

Publication date31/05/2022
Publication date online31/12/2021
Date accepted by journal18/11/2021