New HEAL Study: The Influence of the School Neighborhood Food Retail Environment on Unhealthy Food Purchasing Behaviors Among Adolescents: A Systematic Review
A team of researchers led by Olivia Caruso with Louise McEachern, Leia Minaker, and Jason Gilliland recently published an article entitled: “The Influence of the School Neighbourhood Food Retail Environment on Unhealthy Food Purchasing Behaviors among Adolescents: A Systematic Review.”
Adolescents are often exposed to food retailers selling unhealthy food items during their lunch breaks and school commutes. This systematic review examines the influence of school neighborhood food retail environments on adolescent food purchasing.
The researchers conducted a systematic search of 6 databases. Observational studies published from January 2012 to December 2022 that measured food availability, accessibility, or exposure, measured food purchasing, and focused on adolescents (aged 10–19 years) were eligible for inclusion.
Twelve studies with 97 findings were included. Thirty-one findings indicated that a school neighborhood with a high density of unhealthy food retail, a school with unhealthy food retail nearby, or exposure to unhealthy food retail on the journey to/from school was associated with higher prevalence and frequency of unhealthy food purchases.
The researchers found that adolescents’ food purchasing behaviors may be meaningfully affected by their school neighborhood food retail environment; however, the included studies had many methodological shortcomings.
Results identify the need for new studies that measure food purchasing, use comprehensive definitions of food retail environments, and adopt more rigorous methods to approximate exposure to food retail. More robust evidence would strengthen the rationale for policy or program interventions and potentially indicate specific targets for intervention.
Citation: Olivia Caruso, Louise McEachern, Leia Minaker, and Jason Gilliland. “The Influence of the School Neighborhood Food Retail Environment on Unhealthy Food Purchasing Behaviors Among Adolescents: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (2024); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2023.11.005