The Food Environment Around Public Schools and the Consumption of Junk Food for Lunch by Québec Secondary School Students

  • In Québec, more than half (52%) of secondary school students had not eaten junk food for lunch during the week preceding the study, while a little less than half (48%) had eaten junk food for lunch one or more times.
  • Close to 40% of students in Québec public secondary schools have access to at least two fast-food restaurants within 750 metres.
  • Consumption of junk food two or more times per week is associated with obesity and other negative health measures among young people.
  • The proportions of young people consuming junk food two or more times per week are significantly higher in schools with two (27%) or three (26%) fast-food restaurants within a 750-metre radius than in those with only one (19%) or none (19%).
  • Other factors also influence the consumption of junk food among Québec students attending public schools: being a boy, being in a family with shared custody, having parents with no more than or no secondary school diploma or being in a school in a very disadvantaged neighbourhood or in an urban setting.
  • Independently of these factors, the presence of fast-food restaurants around schools significantly increases the proportion of students who consume junk food for lunch. Our analysis indicates that the risk of consuming junk food at lunchtime is 50% higher for students with access to two or more fast-food restaurants within a 750-metre zone around the school.