Are fast food restaurants an environmental risk factor for obesity?

Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1015, USA. .
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (Impact Factor: 3.58). 02/2006; 3:2. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-3-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Eating at "fast food" restaurants has increased and is linked to obesity. This study examined whether living or working near "fast food" restaurants is associated with body weight.
A telephone survey of 1033 Minnesota residents assessed body height and weight, frequency of eating at restaurants, and work and home addresses. Proximity of home and work to restaurants was assessed by Global Index System (GIS) methodology.
Eating at "fast food" restaurants was positively associated with having children, a high fat diet and Body Mass Index (BMI). It was negatively associated with vegetable consumption and physical activity. Proximity of "fast food" restaurants to home or work was not associated with eating at "fast food" restaurants or with BMI. Proximity of "non-fast food" restaurants was not associated with BMI, but was associated with frequency of eating at those restaurants.
Failure to find relationships between proximity to "fast food" restaurants and obesity may be due to methodological weaknesses, e.g. the operational definition of "fast food" or "proximity", or homogeneity of restaurant proximity. Alternatively, the proliferation of "fast food" restaurants may not be a strong unique cause of obesity.

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    Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 04/2014; 39(4):480-6. · 2.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding which physical environmental factors affect adult obesity, and how best to influence them, is important for public health and urban planning. Previous attempts to summarise the literature have not systematically assessed the methodological quality of included studies, or accounted for environmental differences between continents or the ways in which environmental characteristics were measured. We have conducted an updated review of the scientific literature on associations of physical environmental factors with adult weight status, stratified by continent and mode of measurement, accompanied by a detailed risk-of-bias assessment. Five databases were systematically searched for studies published between 1995 and 2013. Two factors, urban sprawl and land use mix, were found consistently associated with weight status, although only in North America. With the exception of urban sprawl and land use mix in the US the results of the current review confirm that the available research does not allow robust identification of ways in which that physical environment influences adult weight status, even after taking into account methodological quality.
    BMC Public Health 03/2014; 14(1):233. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives. We tested hypotheses about the relationship between neighborhood-level food sources and obesity, controlling for individual-level characteristics. Methods. Data (collected November 2006-April 2008) derived from a random-digit-dial sample of 5688 community-dwelling adults aged 50 to 74 years residing in 1644 census tracts in New Jersey. Using multilevel structural equation models, we created latent constructs representing density of fast-food establishments and storefronts (convenience stores, bars and pubs, grocery stores) and an observed indicator for supermarkets at the neighborhood level, simultaneously modeling obesity and demographic characteristics (age, gender, race, education, household income) at the individual level. Results. When we controlled for individual-level age, gender, race, education, and household income, densities of fast-food establishments and storefronts were positively associated with obesity. Supermarkets were not associated with obesity. Conclusions. Because people living in neighborhoods with a higher density of fast food and storefronts are more likely to be obese, these neighborhoods may be optimal sites for interventions. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 13, 2014: e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301788).
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