Recent studies report an increased obesity rate among teens at schools where fast-foot restaurants were less than a tenth of a mile (one city block) away. It’s not a small chance, either – the increased risk is 5.2 percent. A city councilman from Queens proposed a ban on building/placing new fast-food restaurants within one tenth of a mile of a school. That sounds GREAT to us. Ironically, councilman Goia presented the proposal at a school opposite a McDonald’s. Immediate proximity is cited by researchers to directly impact the rate of childhood obesity. However, a location .25 and .5 miles away from a school did not impact the rates.
The study itself culled data from eight years of 1,047 California high schools, finding that caloric intake would increase 30 to 100 calories per day depending on the proximity of a restaurant. Students who were Hispanic and female had the greatest impact. Pregnant women were also studied and found to gain more weight if a fast-food outlet was within a tenth of a mile of their home.
The study, which was published in February 2009 culled data over eight years from 1,047 California high schools. It found that caloric intake could increase 30 to 100 calories a day depending on the proximity of a fast-food restaurant and that the effect was greatest for students who were Hispanic and female.
And good news, Mr. Gioia is clearly on the money and thinking really broadly and thoughtfully about this – he does not recommend the proposal as the only measure. Instead, he suggests it should be accompanied by other tactics like placing green markets in poorer neighborhoods and including education about healthy eating. He mentioned that the neighborhoods with the highest obesity rates were those that had 28 fast-food restaurants within a tenth of a mile of a school.
“If we’re not willing to move harmful substances away just one block, what are we willing to do?” he asked.
Let’s get more discussions like this going – and also try to get good information to fast food outlets so they have healthier choices that are cheaper and more likely to sell. As we understand it, McDonald’s is one of the largest buyers of fresh apples in the world, as of 2005 – that is a major change from some years back and great to see.