World Health Organization Collaborative Cross-National Study

The Food Environment Group is interested in exploring children’s food environments and their perception and use of these environments. 

School food environments are important determinants of health and nutrition among young people. Food available within and in close proximity to schools can impact on dietary choices, particularly among post-primary school students who can leave school at lunch time. Accurate and reliable measurements of school food environments and capturing children’s use of food retail outlets, is essential in order to quantify the impact of these environments on young people’s diet, nutritional and anthropometric status. 

To date, the Food Environment Group has explored the internal and external school food environment.  Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), 63 post-primary schools that took part in the 2010 HBSC survey and all food premises within 1 km of these schools have been geocoded.  Food premises were categorised based on type of food sold and data on the internal school food environment were collected using questionnaires.  This  work can contribute to the debate on the location of food businesses around schools and the need for school food standards  (Callaghan et al., 2015).

Data on the perception and use of food retailers close to schools has also been collected from post-primary students, using qualitative approaches. Results from the analysis of this data will be posted in due course. 


What is a GIS? GIS Map for food environment page

A  Geographic Information System (GIS) is a powerful automated system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present all types of geographic data.  GIS combines software, hardware and data in a single system which allows users to explore spatial relationships and trends within their data and adds a different dimension to data exploration and analysis.  GIS technologies have advanced dramatically in recent years making it applicable to a wider range of disciplines.  The advent of mapping products such as Google Maps, OpenStreetMap and GPS navigation technologies have contributed to the rise in popularity of GIS use in society.  



Kelly, C., Callaghan, M., Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Alforque Thomas, A. (2018). Food environments in and around post-primary schools in Ireland: Associations with youth dietary habits. Appetite (in press 21/08/2018) download.

Callaghan, M., Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Kelly, C. (2015). Food for thought: analysing the internal and external school food environment. Health Education, 15(2), 152-170. download (1.11MB)



Kelly, C. (2018). Adolescent perceptions of local food environments: "it would take a lot of effort to eat healthy". Presented at the ASOI 6th Annual Conference & AGM 2018: Environmental determinants of food consumption and obesity. Dublin, May 2018. download (869KB)

Kelly, C. (2018). School food environments and adolescent health. Presented at the 32nd conference of the EHPS 'Health Psychology Across the Lifespan: Uniting Research, Practice and Policy'. Galway, August 2018. download (864KB)

Callaghan, M. & Kelly, C. (2016). Informing food policies in post-primary schools in Ireland: Knowledge to Action. Presented at the 20th Annual Health Promotion Conference ‘Knowledge to Action: Using research evidence in health promotion policy and practice’. NUI, Galway, June 2016. download (1,119KB)

Kelly, C., Callaghan, M., Nic Gabhainn, S., Molcho, M. & Alforque Thomas, A. (2016). School food environments and children’s dietary behaviours. Presented at The Nutrition Society Summer Conference: New technology in nutrition research and practice. Dublin, July 2016. download (1,170KB)

Callaghan, M., Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Kelly, C.  (2015) The food environment of post-primary school children. Presented at the GIS & Spatial Modelling in Research Seminar. Galway, June 2015. download‌ (2.76MB)

Kelly, C. (2015). The school food environment – are we making the healthy choice the easy choice? Presented at the IPH fourth annual Open Conference. Dublin, October 2015. download (1.20MB)

Kelly, C. & Callaghan, M. (2015). School foodscapes - challenges and opportunities for student health? Presented at the Irish Heart Foundation Food Provision in Post Primary Schools seminar. Dublin, April 2015. download (1364KB)

Callaghan, M., Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Kelly, C. (2014). The foodscape of post-primary schools in Ireland. Presented at the 2014 HBSC Summer Meeting. Olomouc, June 2014. download (584KB) 

Callaghan, M., Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Kelly, C. (2014). Towards building health school communities through health food access. Presented at the Applying the principles of health promotion to population health improvement, Health Promotion Research Centre Conference. Galway, June 2014. download (613KB) 

Callaghan, M. (2013). Proximity of fast food restaurants to post-primary schools in Ireland - a cause for concern? Presentation for the Threesis Event, NUI Galway, Nov 2013. download (461KB)

Callaghan, M., Kelly, C., Molcho, N. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2013). Exploring the food environment of post-primary schools in Ireland. Presented at the HBSC 30th Anniversary Conference. St Andrews, June 2013. download (646KB)

Callaghan, M., Kelly, C., Molcho, M. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2012).  School food environments: exploring fast food chain restaurants around post-primary schools in Ireland. Paper presented at the Population and Migration research network inaugural seminar: Contemporary perspectives on children and families.  Galway, August 2012. download (1.08MB)

Callaghan, M., Kelly, C., Molcho, M. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2012).  The spatial location of fast food restaurant chains near schools: A Geographic Analysis.  Presented at  2012 Sino-European Symposium on Environment and Health. Galway, August 2012. download (212KB)

Kelly, C., Callaghan, M., Molcho, M. & Nic Gabhainn, S (2012). School food environments: exploring fast food chain restaurants around post-primary schools in Ireland. Paper presented to the  Nutrition Society annual Summer meeting, Translational nutrition: integrating research, practice and policy, Belfast July 2012.  download (1.54MB)

Callaghan, M., Kelly, C., Molcho, M. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2012). Geographical dimensions of well-being. Presented at Changing the System: Overcoming Barriers to Well-Being in Ireland. Galway, June 2012.  download (212KB)


Geodirectory (2010).  Geodirectory.  Retrieved September 7, 2012, from

Kelly, A., & Teljeur, C. (2007). The National Deprivation Index for Health and Health Services Index. SAHRU, TCD.