Cross-Country Comparison of School Neighborhood Food Environments in Houston, Texas and Guadalajara, Mexico

J Prim Prev. 2019 Dec;40(6):591-606. doi: 10.1007/s10935-019-00568-x.


Studies in the U.S. and Mexico have observed the clustering of food resources around schools, which may promote the use of these resources. Our study characterized and compared school neighborhood food environments in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Houston, Texas, and examined socioeconomic disparities in food resource availability across school neighborhoods. We used the Goods and Services Inventory to document the frequency and type of resources within each school neighborhood. School neighborhoods in Guadalajara had significantly more food resources than those in Houston. We found that convenience stores and table service restaurants were the most prevalent food resources in school neighborhoods in both cities. Guadalajara school neighborhoods had a higher prevalence of supermarkets and grocery stores than Houston. Low-income school neighborhoods in Guadalajara with poorly educated residents had significantly more food carts than high-income neighborhoods with more educated residents. In Houston, we found significantly more fast food restaurants and convenience stores in school neighborhoods with more educated residents than school neighborhoods with less educated residents. The influence of food resources within school neighborhoods on the dietary habits of schoolchildren should be further explored in both the U.S. and Mexico. The characterization of school neighborhood food environments can inform policymakers, city planners, and school officials who seek to implement policies to create healthier food environments.

Keywords: Children; Food accessibility; Obesity; School.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Supply*
  • Humans
  • Mexico
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Restaurants
  • Schools*
  • Texas