Food Supply and the obesity scourge: Is there a relationship?

Lillian Mwanri, Wendy Foley, John Coveney, Robert Muller, Fiona Verity, Paul Ward, Patricia Carter, Philip Mohr, Anne Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews literature on the relationship between food supply and obesity. The focus is on the supply, cost, and variety of food through various types of food outlets and the impact of these factors on obesity in developed countries. The article reveals complex relationships between food supply factors and obesity. A number of factors related to lifestyles including the mobility of populations and the use of motor vehicles greatly reduce the impact of the local environment on family and individual eating patterns. However, obesity is also affected by factors such as the type and density of food outlets, the cost of food, the travel distance and means of transport to the food outlet. While the relationship between food supply and obesity in the literature reveals complex and mixed findings, this paper concludes obesity is complex and food supply is only part of this phenomenon’s predictors. Because the relationship between food supply and obesity is mediated by such multiple and complex factors including population behaviours, beliefs, lifestyles, knowledge and both food and physical environments; multiple strategies including policy development and other strategies aimed at manipulating food environments, physical environments, populations’ beliefs, behaviours and practices must be considered in searching for evidence to effectively combat obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1463
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Complex Relationships
  • Food outlets
  • Food supply
  • Obesity
  • Socio economic status


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