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Availability and properties of commercially produced food products offered in European public universities: A North–South comparison

Artículos   |   15 de abril de 2024 Date   |  
First published: 15 March 2024

Abstract: To date, there are no studies that have compared university food environments (FEs) with different sociocultural contexts. Therefore, we analyzed differences in the availability and properties of commercially produced foods, in a northern and a southern European university (located in Norway and Spain, respectively). A cross-sectional observational study was conducted at OsloMet—Oslo Metropolitan University and at the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. The nutritional quality of food products was estimated through the following nutrient profiling models (NPMs): those proposed by the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), the UK nutrient profiling model (UK NPM), the Norwegian Food and Drink Industry Professional Practices Committee (Matbransjens Fagligle Utvalg [MFU]), and a combination of them. In addition, food items were classified using the NOVA system. A total of 251 and 1051 products were identified at OsloMet and the UPV/EHU, respectively. The percentage categorized as low nutritional quality (LNQ) was higher at the UPV/EHU (almost 54.5% of the total products) compared with at OsloMet (almost 40%) (< 0.001). Most of the products were categorized as ultra-processed, and there were no differences in the percentage of ultra-processed foods between the two universities (OsloMet 86.1%, UPV/EHU 83.3%, p > 0.05). A higher proportion of LNQ products was found at the UPV/EHU than at OsloMet, probably due to the government policies and actions for creating healthy FEs. Consequently, there is a need to develop interventions to improve the FE at the UPV/EHU, adapted to its sociocultural context.

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