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Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods in Brazilian Children: An Analysis of Regional Trends

Published:August 02, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2021.06.006

      Highlights

      • Food consumption was assessed in children from the five Brazilian regions.
      • Sweetened beverages characterize children's eating patterns.
      • The consumption of ultra-processed foods was higher in specific regions.
      • Consumption of these products increased in all regions between 2015 and 2019.
      • Children in the Northeast were strongly impacted by the consumption of these products.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Childhood obesity has become a concern for the Brazilian Unified Health System, which has recently started to investigate children's eating habits in basic health units. This study examined the trends and ultra-processed foods (UPF) consumption in Brazilian children.

      Design and methods

      This repeated cross-sectional study included 492,630 children (2–9 years old), from different Brazilian regions, in the years 2015 and 2019. The children's food consumption was assessed by nurses using a nationally standardized instrument. Information was provided by the Food and Nutrition Surveillance System Brazilian.

      Results

      The UPF consumption in Brazilian children is generally high and was higher among children in the South and Midwest regions. The consumption of sweetened beverages was more prevalent among all the UPF assessed and continues to increase among children in the Northeast region. Declining trends in UPF consumption were observed in children from all regions, except for the Northeast region, whose trends increased in almost all evaluated foods.

      Practice implications

      Nurses, especially, have a primary role in guiding the reduction of UPF consumption, as they are the first health professionals to have access to this information. Increasing trends in UPF consumption can be mitigated by the inclusion of nutritionists in basic health units. Brazilian children need to be assisted by public policies that promote food education.

      Keywords

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