Obesity Linked With Higher Number of Fast Food Restaurants In The Neighbourhood

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Researchers suggest that due to the lack of healthy food in the less affluent neighbourhoods and the availability of inexpensive fast food from fast food joints, the number of people obese seems to be increasing. Reuters

A new study by scientists at the University of Western Ontario, London, has found that the high number of fast food restaurants in a neighbourhood are linked with obesity. The study reveals that individulas with BMI higher than the average seem to live in areas with high density of fast food restaurants in comparison to those who live in areas with full-service restaurants. The research was published in Canadian Journal of Public Health. 

This is the first research study to be done on Canadian adults as there have been previous studies aimed at only children in Canada. Similar findings were observed in studies done in the United States. Authors have said that the finding could be used to justify government action, whether that's zoning bylaws aimed at restricting the density of fast food outlets or requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie counts for the food items they serve.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of Bariatric Medical Institute of Ottowa, an expert in obesity, was not impressed with the study as he said it found nothing new. 

Freedhoff commented, "This is a small drop in a very large bucket and while I am all for affecting and attacking all drops, there are a lot of bigger drops we've got to hit before we start worrying about zoning fast food."

Data was gathered from the 2007-2008 Canadian Health Survey. The researchers charted the average individual Body Mass Index in neighbourhoods agains the number of restaurants found around the country. The researchers say that fast food restaurants contribute to obese people because of them being located in less affluent areas where there is limited access to buy healthier food items.

The research showed that women and men of average height, living in a high density of fast food neighbourhood, weighed 1.14 kilograms and 3 kilograms respectively more than those who lived elsewhere. 

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