Youth who study just a short walk from a fast-food outlet eat fewer fruit and vegetables, drink more soda and are more likely to be obese than students at other schools, according to research published recently.
The study, which involved more than 500,000 adolescents at middle schools and high schools in California, lends new fuel to a growing backlash against the fast-food industry as studies suggest they contribute to the rising obesity epidemic.
“Students who were exposed to nearby fast food have a higher level of body mass index — they weigh more. They are more likely to be overweight and obese,” said Brennan Davis of Azusa Pacific University in California, whose study appears in the American Journal of Public Health.
For the study, Davis and colleagues examined the relationship between fast-food restaurants located within one half mile of schools and obesity among middle and high school students in California.
They took weight and dietary information from a statewide school survey between 2002 and 2005 and cross referenced the data with a database of top fast food chains located near each school.
“Overall, our patterns are consistent with the idea that fast food near schools affects students’ eating habits, overweight and obesity,” Davis and colleagues wrote.
They also found that students whose schools were located near-fast food restaurants eat fewer servings of vegetables and fruits, and drink far more soda than students at schools not located near fast-food restaurants.
Source: American Journal of Public Health
Source: The Daily Star, December 27, 2008