Restricting Fast Food Access Will Not Reduce Obesity Say Researchers


“Fast food is generally not good for you, and supermarkets do sell healthy food, but our results suggest blocking the opening of a new fast-food restaurant or subsidizing a local supermarket will do little to reduce obesity,” said Coady Wing from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a part of the largest research in the US that studied the connection between residential areas and Body Mass Index (BMI).

According to Science Daily reports, the researchers found that if the access of supermarkets and fast food chains changes in a person’s locality, it has nothing to do with his/her BMI. They also found that there is no evidence that claims that relationship between BMI and food outlets are different in localities that have a high poverty level. Also, this research shed light that the policies made for reducing obesity by decreasing the number of fast food outlets and increasing the number or supermarkets may give people more access to healthy food but can’t reduce obesity.

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The team conducted their research with the Weight and Veterans’ Environments Study, which is a database on 1.7 million veterans living in 382 metropolitan areas and stretches from 2009 to 2014. The assessment took place by observing how the BMI changed with each veteran and also matching it with fast food restaurants and supermarkets in their localities. The BMI was calculated using the height and weight measurements given by the veterans on doctor visits.

The researchers also calculated how many stores, supermarkets and fast food outlets were in the one-mile and three-miles of each residence. The BMI changes were hence tracked and observed as well as the veteran’s moving out from the locality plus the opening and shutting of a food outlet. “We couldn’t find evidence to support policies based on that presumed link,” Wing said. “Strategies like the healthy food financing initiatives some cities are pursuing could have benefits, for example reducing the saturation of unhealthy food sources in impoverished neighborhoods. But those policies alone aren’t likely to lead to healthier BMI.”

Shruti Anand

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