Availability of processed foods in the perimeter of public schools in urban areas

Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Jornal de pediatria (Impact Factor: 1.19). 07/2012; 88(4):328-34. DOI: 10.2223/JPED.2210
Source: PubMed


To assess the availability of food in relation to their degree of industrial processing and the types of food stores in the perimeters of elementary schools.
This is a cross-sectional study. 82 food stores located within a 500 m radius buffer of three public schools located in three distinct regions with different socioeconomic levels in the municipality of Santos, state of São Paulo, Brazil, were assessed. All streets within a 500-meter radius of the schools were covered, geographic coordinates were recorded and information about the stores and food items available were collected by direct observation and interview with store managers. Available food items were classified in relation to their degree of industrial processing as ultra-processed foods and minimally processed foods. Kernel's density maps were used to assess the degree of agglomeration of stores near the schools.
The stores that offered mostly ultra-processed foods were significantly closer to schools than those who offered mostly minimally processed foods. There was a significant difference between the availability of processed food in different types of stores and between the three regions assessed.
The data found by this work evidence that children who attend the three public schools assessed are exposed to an environment that encourages the consumption of ultra-processed foods through easier access of these products in the studied stores.

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    • "Subsequent analysis of the foods offered revealed that many exceeded recommended levels of energy, fat, and saturated fat, and salt. Further afield, a Brazilian study found that shops with more processed foods were closer to schools than those selling minimally-processed foods [9], and data from the Health Behaviour of School Children (HBSC) surveys in Canada showed a significant association between food retailer density within walking distance of schools and the probability of pupils eating lunch from those nearby retailers [10]. "
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