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Friday, January 4, 2008

Readin', writin' and chubbin' up

mcdonalds-kids.jpg

The New York Times reports a possible link between proximity of fast-food restaurants to schools and obesity. Among the studies mentioned is one of Atlanta schools.

Says the Times of a new national study:

The study, published in the January issue of Health & Place, found that more than one-third of middle and high schools are located within a half-mile of a fast-food outlet or convenience store. When the study focused on the 20 largest cities, the presence of fast-food chains near schools was even more obvious. Two-thirds of urban secondary schools had at least one fast-food restaurant within walking distance, and more than half had a convenience store within a half-mile.

While previous studies have looked at the proximity of fast-food restaurants to schools in a specific community, no previous study has examined the trend across the United States. A 2005 Chicago study found that 78 percent of all kindergarten, primary and secondary schools had at least one fast-food restaurant within a half-mile, and that fast-food restaurants were clustered disproportionately around schools compared to other parts of the city. A 2007 study of four communities in Atlanta also showed that fast-food restaurants and convenience stores were closer to middle schools compared with the location of sit-down restaurants and grocery stores.

The most recent study is important because it shows that efforts to fight obesity and encourage healthful eating inside school cafeterias is likely undermined by the easy availability of fast food within walking distance of many schools. ...

I dunno. The idea, proposed by some, that you can control students' weight by not letting them leave the campus for lunch is a bit of draconian optimism I don't think I buy. Maybe the cities can start creating "obesity districts," the way some European cities have "red light districts." Instead of buying sex, you could buy McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.

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