Disparities in Food Availability around Schools in a Large Brazilian City


  • Maria Alvim Leite
  • Maíra Macário de Assis
  • Ariene Silva do Carmo
  • Thales Philipe Rodrigues da Silva
  • Mário Círio Nogueira
  • Michele Pereira Netto
  • Renata Bertazzi Levy
  • Larissa Loures Mendes


food environment, geographical variations, schools, socio-economic inequalities, ultra-processed food


The food environment around schools may influence the food consumption and health outcomes of children and adolescents. We conducted a cross-sectional exploratory census study in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil, to investigate the food environment in the neighborhoods of schools. Schools were classified according to administration (public/private), location (central/peripheral), and neighborhood socioeconomic vulnerability. The density of food stores around schools was divided into four categories: i) only or mainly selling unprocessed or minimally processed food, ii) mixed, iii) only or mainly selling ultra-processed food, and iv) supermarkets and hypermarkets. We calculated the Euclidian distances (m) from schools to each nearest establishment category and plotted circular buffers of 250, 500, and 1000 m radius around schools to evaluate the density of food stores inside the circular areas. A total of 316 schools and 4,690 establishments were included in the study. We found that the closest establishment category around schools was those selling only or mainly ultra-processed food. Schools were situated where there was a concentration of food stores; being in the central district was the most influential factor with regard to their presence around schools. Moreover, the density of food stores around schools decreased as the district’s vulnerability increased. To fight against an obesogenic environment around schools, public policies are needed to regulate the commodities being sold nearby.