1Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Introduction: The inequities of Brazilian society are present in metropolitan favelas in the scope of the provision of basic sanitation, health, and education services. They are also reflected in the food environment and, consequently, in their access to food. However, despite the history of poverty and lack of access to basic services in favelas, the distribution of food establishments in these areas has not been the focus of studies in Brazil. Objective: This study aimed to characterize physical access to food establishments in the favelas of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Methods: We analyzed the distribution of 124 Public Equipment for Food Security and Nutrition and 23,384 food establishments registered in the State of Minas Gerais, both for the year 2019, in the census sectors of Belo Horizonte. Based on the type, establishments were categorized into establishments that predominantly offered unprocessed or minimally processed foods, establishments that predominantly offered mixed foods, and establishments that predominantly offered ultraprocessed foods. We used a buffer network to calculate the nearest neighbor and commute distance. We also calculated accessibility through public transport. Results: This study evaluated 5,125 CTs: 192 were located in favelas, and 4,933 were located in the formal city. Public Equipment for Food Security and establishments that predominantly offer unprocessed or minimally processed foods are fewer and farther away from favelas, whereas those that predominantly offer mixed and ultra-processed food are widely available in the environment. Residents of favelas must walk farther and commute longer to buy healthy food. Conclusions: To reduce inequities in these communities, programs and policies that encourage the opening of healthy food establishments and planting community gardens in favelas are required.
Keywords: poverty areas, favelas, food environment, food deserts, food swamps.