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To verify differences in the availability, variety, quality and price of unprocessed and ultra-processed foods in supermarkets and similar establishments in neighbourhoods with different social deprivation levels at Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The Obesogenic Environment Study in São Paulo’s Food Store Observation Tool (ESAO-S) was applied in thirty-three supermarket chains, wholesale and retail supermarkets.
Fruits, vegetables and ultra-processed foods were available in almost all establishments, without differences according to Health Vulnerability Index (HVI; which varies from 0 to 1 point and the higher the worse; P > 0·05). Most establishments were concentrated in low vulnerability areas and offered healthy foods with greater variety and quality, despite higher prices. The Healthy Food Store Index (HFSI; which varies from 0 to 16 points and the higher the best) was calculated from the ESAO-S and the mean score was 8·91 (sd 1·51). The presence and variety of unprocessed foods count as positive points, as do the absence of ultra-processed products. When HFSI was stratified by HVI, low HVI neighbourhoods presented higher HFSI scores, compared with medium, high and very high HVI neighbourhoods (P = 0·001).
Supermarkets and similar establishments are less dense in areas of greater social deprivation and have lower prices of healthy foods, but the variety and quality of those foods are worse, compared with areas of low vulnerability. We found worse HFSI for supermarkets located in areas with greater vulnerability. Those findings can guide specific public policies improving the urban food environment.
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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