When it comes to addressing the obesity epidemic, fast food restaurants are a favorite target, with some communities, such as the city of Los Angeles, going so far as to ban the construction of new, standalone fast food restaurants in neighborhoods with a high density of fast food restaurants that are also plagued by a high obesity rate.
But according to a new study coauthored by Michael Bader, an assistant professor of sociology at American University in Washington, D.C., communities contemplating such bans may want to look beyond the number of fast food outlets to the greater retail environment of each neighborhood.
“Fast food restaurants don’t exist in a vacuum,” Bader said. “Restaurants and stores open and close based on larger economic development patterns.”
Bader’s article, coauthored with colleagues at Columbia University and titled “More Neighborhood Retail Associated with Lower Obesity among New York City Public High School Students,” was published in the September issue of the journal Health & Place. Continue reading