‘Obesogenic’ School Food Environments? An Urban Case Study in the Netherlands

Joris Timmermans, Coosje Dijkstra, Carlijn Kamphuis, Marlijn Huitink, Egbert van der Zee, Maartje Poelman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


(1) Background: This study aimed to explore and define socio-economic (SES) differences in urban school food environments in The Netherlands. (2) Methods: Retail food outlets, ready-to-eat products, in-store food promotions and food advertisements in public space were determined within 400 m walking distance of all secondary schools in the 4th largest city of The Netherlands. Fisher’s exact tests were conducted. (3) Results: In total, 115 retail outlets sold ready-to-eat food and drink products during school hours. Fast food outlets were more often in the vicinity of schools in lower SES (28.6%) than in higher SES areas (11.5%). In general, unhealthy options (e.g., fried snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB)) were more often for sale, in-store promoted or advertised in comparison with healthy options (e.g., fruit, vegetables, bottled water). Sport/energy drinks were more often for sale, and fried snacks/fries, hamburgers/kebab and SSB were more often promoted or advertised in lower SES areas than in higher SES-areas. (4) Conclusion: In general, unhealthy food options were more often presented than the healthy options, but only a few SES differences were observed. The results, however, imply that efforts in all school areas are needed to make the healthy option the default option during school time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number619
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Early online date28 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Acknowledgments: The contribution of the final author (M.P.) is supported by the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (#451-16-029), financed by The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • Adolescents
    • Eating behavior
    • Food advertisements
    • Food environment
    • Nutrition
    • Obesity
    • Retail outlets
    • Secondary school
    • Urban areas


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