Ultra-processed food consumption patterns among older adults in the Netherlands and the role of the food environment

Maria Gabriela M. Pinho, Jeroen Lakerveld, Marjolein C. Harbers, Ivonne Sluijs, Roel Vermeulen, Anke Huss, Jolanda M. A. Boer, W. M. Monique Verschuren, Johannes Brug, Joline W. J. Beulens, Joreintje D. Mackenbach

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To describe the patterns of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) consumption in the Netherlands; to test if exposure to the food environment is associated with UPFs consumption; and if this association differed across educational levels and neighbourhood urbanisation. Methods: Cross-sectional study using 2015-data of 8104 older adults from the Dutch EPIC cohort. Proportion of UPFs consumption was calculated from a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Exposure to the food environment was defined as proximity and availability of supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, convenience stores, candy stores and cafés. Consumption of UPFs was expressed as both percentage of total grams and total kilocalories. Results: The study population was aged 70(± 10 SD) years and 80.5% was female. Average UPFs consumption was 17.8% of total food intake in grams and 37% of total energy intake. Those who consumed greater amounts of UPFs had a poorer overall diet quality. Adjusted linear regression models showed that closer proximity and larger availability to any type of food retailer was associated with lower UPFs consumption (both in grams and kilocalories). Somewhat stronger significant associations were found for proximity to restaurants (β = − 1.6%, 95% confidence interval (CI) = − 2.6; − 0.6), and supermarkets (β = − 2.2%, 95%CI = − 3.3; − 1.1); i.e., Individuals living within 500 m from the closest supermarket, as compared to 1500 m, had 2.6% less calories from UPFs. No differences were found on analyses stratified for urbanisation and education. Conclusions: Using various measures of exposure to the food environment, we found that exposure to restaurants and supermarkets was associated with somewhat lower consumption of UPFs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2567-2580
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Early online date24 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Community food environment
  • Dietary habits
  • Food retailers
  • Obesogenic environment
  • Older adults
  • Ultra-processed food

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