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Influence of Unhealthy Food Environment on Premature Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Brazil: An Ecologic Approach

Published:November 24, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2022.09.018

      Introduction

      Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of general and premature death of adults aged 30–69 years in Brazil and around the world. Unhealthy food environments have been implicated as one of the factors associated with cardiovascular disease morbimortality because they affect people's health conditions and nutrition. This study aims to explore the association between unhealthy food environments (deserts/swamps) and premature cardiovascular disease mortality in the Brazilian population.

      Methods

      This is an ecologic study using data from 5,558 Brazilian municipalities in 2016. The cardiovascular disease mortality data were obtained from the Mortality Information System of the Ministry of Health. The study on mapping food deserts in Brazil, developed by the Interministerial Chamber of Food and Nutrition Security, was used to evaluate the physical dimension of food access. The authors calculated the standardized rates of premature general and specific cardiovascular disease (stroke and ischemic heart disease) causes of death in the same period. To characterize food environments, the density of unprocessed and ultraprocessed foods per 10,000 population in tertiles was used. Crude and adjusted negative binomial regression models were used to study the associations of interest.

      Results

      After the necessary adjustments (human development index, gross domestic product per capita, unemployment rate, Gini index and Family Health Strategy coverage), it was found that municipalities with low unprocessed food supply were at the highest risk of increased mortality among women with ischemic heart disease (rate ratio first tertile: 1.08 [95% CI=1.01, 1.15]). Conversely, the municipalities where there was a greater offer of ultraprocessed foods showed a higher risk of death from cardiovascular diseases (rate ratio second tertile: 1.17 [95% CI=1.12, 1.22]; rate ratio third tertile: 1.20 [95% CI=1.14, 1.26]), from strokes (rate ratio second tertile: 1.19 [95% CI=1.13, 1.25]; rate ratio third tertile: 1.22 [95% CI=1.15, 1.30]), and ischemic heart disease (rate ratio second tertile: 1.19 [95% CI=1.12, 1.25]; rate ratio third tertile: 1.22 [95% CI=1.13, 1.29]).

      Conclusions

      This study's findings show an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and ischemic heart disease mortality, especially in the municipalities where there was a greater offer of ultraprocessed foods. Initiatives aiming to minimize the effects of these food environments are urgently needed in the Brazilian context.
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