Is Mere Proximity to Fast Food Bad for Kids?

By Marion Nestle
nestle mar27 fastfood.jpg

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography/FlickrCC

Kids who go to high schools located within 500 feet of a fast food outlet are fatter than kids whose schools are further away, according to a study in the March American Journal of Public Health. The Los Angeles Times took a look, mapped the fast food places near several local high schools, and found no lack of them. Are kids generally fatter because they have easier access to fast food? Or is that the only kind of food available? Or are fast food outlets a marker for unhealthy neighborhoods?

Whatever. The Times quotes an NRA spokesman arguing that the study doesn't mean a thing. I can understand why the NRA might be worried. What if cities stopped allowing fast food outlets near schools? That's just what the Los Angeles city council tried to do last year. With some research evidence to back up the idea, this study might kick off a national trend.

And maybe, just maybe, kids might start eating healthier meals at school?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/03/is-mere-proximity-to-fast-food-bad-for-kids/7006/