I wrote a post back in March questioning some conclusions from a Columbia University and UC Berkeley study stating that fast-food restaurants located near schools increases childhood obesity. While I didn’t deny the data, I certainly disagreed with the authors’ conclusion that banning fast food joints near schools would decrease obesity in children. Well a new study has just been released that closes the lid on the fast-food ban argument. In fact, it shows that the presence of fast food restaurants has no effect on childhood obesity at all.
According to research conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which looked at a decade of data on more than 60,000 children aged 3 to 18, living near a fast food restaurant had little effect on weight gain. And surprisingly, living instead near a supermarket stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables wasn’t associated with lower weight either.
These results go against anecdotal data that have led some to believe that the types of food choices in a neighborhood have an effect on weight gain. The study looked at details such as both sick- and well-doctor visits, changes in a child’s address, annual food-service establishment inspection data, aerial photographs of neighborhoods and crime statistics over time. This study provides more accurate data since it was collected over a period of ten years and not a single year as in previous studies. As an interesting side note, living near recreational facilities was associated with lower childhood weight.
Well, all I can say is…I figured. C’mon folks, temptations are all around us, all the time. Does anybody really believe that not having a fast food restaurant near their home will prevent them from getting fast food? I mean, everybody knows that crack addicts come from every neighborhood, right?–even travelling into dangerous neighborhoods to get their goods, right? What’s the difference with junk food? Listen, staying away from junk is an issue of upbringing. You either learn fast food is junk, or you don’t–you think it’s food. Whether you’ve got a dozen fast food restaurants in your hood, or zero, if you think fast food is a viable dietary choice, then you’ll find it when you want it. And it’ll show in your waistline…your kids, too.