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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 investigate the relationship between social deprivation and the food environment. Furthermore, to evaluate if the food environment is associated with the prevalence of obesity among students in Brazilian public schools.
Cross-sectional. For the classification of obesity, weight and height were measured, and the cut-off point of BMI-for-age Z-score >+2 was adopted. Social deprivation level was determined from the Health Vulnerability Index (HVI). To assess the food environment, the density of food establishments in urban residential areas was calculated. Associations between the food environment and the presence of obesity were estimated by binary logistic regression through a generalized estimating equations model.
Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Children and adolescents (n 661) aged 7–14 years.
The lowest social deprivation level showed a higher density of all types of establishments that sold predominantly unhealthy foods. An inverse association was found between the density of supermarkets and hypermarkets and the presence of obesity (OR=0·58; 95 % CI 0·36, 0·93). For the other categories of food retailers, no significant differences were found.
The findings reinforce the need for public policies that promote equality in the food environments of the city. Also, further investigations into the influence of the presence of supermarkets on the nutritional status of children and adolescents are required.
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