About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

This event took place on Monday 11 December. You can watch the recording below.

Whether it’s an early-morning coffee in our favourite cafe or a delivery on a Friday evening – eating out is often seen as a treat. However, we also know that food purchased from restaurants, fast-food outlets and takeaways is associated with higher calorie intakes. Food eaten outside of the home makes up around 11-25% of the calories we eat and accounts for more than 25% of the total UK spend on food and drink.

At Nesta, we believe that creating healthier food environments – the accessibility, affordability and availability of food in our local area – is key to tackling obesity. Local decision makers play an important role in developing and planning healthier food environments. How can we ensure they have the right data to hand to make informed decisions in this field?

Our healthy life mission has collaborated with Cambridge University to improve and re-launch FEAT: The Food Environment Assessment Tool. This tool is designed to support local communities in the UK in their efforts to create healthier food environments – whether to collect evidence to plan decisions, develop local obesity strategies, compare food access between neighbourhoods and test and target local interventions.

Tom Burgoine has devoted his career to studying neighbourhood food environments and their effect on diet, diseases and inequalities. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the MRC Epidemiology Unit of the University of Cambridge and currently leads on a national evaluation of the impact of planning regulations on food retailing near schools and public spaces.

Tom joined our healthy life Deputy Director Lauren Bowes Byatt to share his insights from the FEAT tool and explored what needs to be done to better support local authorities in creating healthier food environments.

Why you should watch the recording

This free online event was for anyone interested in urban planning and local food access, whether you’re working in or with local authorities or health NGOs.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.



Thomas Burgoine

Tom Burgoine is a geographer based at the MRC Epidemiology Unit (University of Cambridge), where he is employed as a Senior Research Associate. He graduated with a PhD in Health Geography from Newcastle University in 2011. His work is focused on the use of novel quantitative methods, especially GIS and spatial statistics, to study neighbourhood food environments and their effects on dietary behaviours, diet, diet-related disease, and inequalities. Current work includes leading a major national evaluation of the impact of planning regulations on food retailing near schools and the public’s health. Through focusing on knowledge translation and the development of online tools, his work has influenced WHO and UK Government planning and public health guidelines, supporting urban planners to create healthier food environments.