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To examine the associations of individual and food environmental factors with fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake in a city in a low-to-middle-income country (LMIC).
Representative sample of the Brazilian Primary Care service known as the Health Academy Program (HAP) in Belo Horizonte, a Brazilian city.
Using a conceptual model as a guide, individual and food environment data were obtained through: (i) face-to-face interviews with participants aged 20 years or older; and (ii) F&V food store audits. A broad set of individual, household, and community and consumer nutrition environment variables was investigated. Multilevel linear regression was used to quantify area-level variations in F&V intake and to estimate associations with the factors.
Eighteen HAP centres were selected and 2944 participants and 336 food stores were included. F&V intake varied between contexts, being higher in areas with better socio-economic conditions and food store quality, such as specialised F&V markets. Individual-level factors, including age, income, food insecurity, stage of change, self-efficacy and decisional balance, were significantly associated with F&V intake. After controlling for individual-level characteristics, greater F&V intake was also associated with higher quality of food stores.
In one of the first studies to comprehensively assess the food environment in an LMIC, individual-level factors accounted for the largest variation in F&V intake; however, the food environment was also important, because area-level variables explained 10·5 % of the F&V intake variation. The consumer nutrition environment was more predictive of healthy eating than was the community nutrition environment. The findings suggest new possibilities for interventions.
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