PEOPLE living in the poorest food deserts in Essex struggle to buy fresh food that they can afford, a new report has revealed.

People in parts of Clacton, Harlow and Basildon are the hardest hit according to a report commissioned by Kellogg’s.

The first map of its kind reveals those people living in deprived food deserts: a low income area that has too few supermarkets or convenience stores selling food at an affordable price.

People living in these food deserts are likely to pay a higher cost for their weekly food shopping, having to go to more expensive small convenience stores with a limited stock of good value fresh products.

And 41 per cent of these households don’t have a car, making it even harder to get to a wide range of good value food stores.

One in eight people surveyed for the report say that not being near a supermarket offering healthy food at low prices stops them eating more healthily.

Ten per cent have even cut back on their own food consumption so that others in their family can eat.

This increases to 14 per cent among individuals with a household income of less than £10,000.

Megan Blake, expert on food security and food justice, commented on the research findings: “Everyday food insecurity is on the rise in neighbourhoods across the United Kingdom.

“For those living in a food desert this can mean having to dedicate a portion of an already stretched budget toward transportation costs in order to secure food.

“It can mean having to carry their food shopping a long distance, a struggle that many older people living in food deserts experience.”

The research goes on to suggest that online food delivery may not be the solution for people living in food deserts.

One third of people on low incomes said they would never use online shopping.

A Kellogg’s spokesperson said: “These findings are especially worrying when a lack of fresh food can have a significant impact on people’s health and it seems to be the most vulnerable people who are impacted.

“This is a complex problem that will require organisations including local authorities and charities to work together to come up with solutions for local communities.

“There isn’t a one size fits all solution. We hope the food deserts map is the first step to getting these conversations going locally.”