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: 4.11). 02/2006; 3(1):2. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-3-2
Source: PubMed


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.


Available from: Jennifer A Linde
    • "Longacre et al. (2012) found that persons living in a nonmetropolitan area with five or more fast-food outlets in their neighborhood are 30% more likely to eat fast food compared to persons with no such availability. In contrast, two other studies found no significant association between the presence of fast food and an individual's fast-food consumption (Jeffery et al., 2006; Thornton et al., 2009). The GIS-based results in our study partially confirm those of previous research in that they do not show a significant association between the number of fast-food outlets present in one's neighborhood and individual weekly fast-food consumption. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent nutritional and public health research has focused on how the availability of various types of food in a person's immediate area or neighborhood influences his or her food choices and eating habits. It has been theorized that people living in areas with a wealth of unhealthy fast-food options may show higher levels of fast-food consumption, a factor that often coincides with being overweight or obese. However, measuring food availability in a particular area is difficult to achieve consistently: there may be differences in the strict physical locations of food options as compared to how individuals perceive their personal food availability, and various studies may use either one or both of these measures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between weekly fast-food consumption and both a person's perceived availability of fast-food and an objective measure of fast-food presence—Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—within that person's neighborhood. A randomly selected population-based sample of eight counties in South Carolina was used to conduct a cross-sectional telephone survey assessing self-report fast-food consumption and perceived availability of fast food. GIS was used to determine the actual number of fast-food outlets within each participant's neighborhood. Using multinomial logistic regression analyses, we found that neither perceived availability nor GIS-based presence of fast-food was significantly associated with weekly fast-food consumption. Our findings indicate that availability might not be the dominant factor influencing fast-food consumption. We recommend using subjective availability measures and considering individual characteristics that could influence both perceived availability of fast food and its impact on fast-food consumption. If replicated, our findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing fast-food consumption by limiting neighborhood fast-food availability might not be completely effective.
    Appetite 05/2015; 92. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.030 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "This suggests that these can be treated as inde - pendent dimensions . We measured direct fast - food experience by asking respondents to report how many days in the past 30 days they had eaten at a fast - food restaurant ( Jeffery , Baxter , McGuire , & Linde , 2006 ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: Fast-food advertising abounds on television (TV), and programs targeting youth often display fast-food consumption but rarely with any negative consequences. Cultivation research maintains that cumulative exposure to TV influences audiences' views of and beliefs about the real world. Thus, the amount of TV adolescents watch is likely to bias their views of the consequences of eating fast food. This research posits that this relationship varies as a function of adolescents' actual experience with fast food. Two cross-sectional surveys conducted in the cultivation research tradition assess the relationship between the amount of adolescents' regular exposure to TV and their beliefs about the risks and benefits of eating fast food. Teenage children of members of online panels reported hours of TV viewing, beliefs about the consequences of eating fast food, and their frequency of fast-food consumption. In both studies, beliefs about health risks of fast-food consumption vary as a function of the amount of TV watched. Heavy TV viewers have less negative and more positive beliefs about the consequences of fast-food consumption than light viewers. As direct experience with fast food increases, the relationship between TV viewing and risk perceptions weakens, but the relationship between TV viewing and positive perceptions strengthens. These moderated relationships remain when we control for physical activity (Study 1) and the density of fast-food restaurants in respondents' geographical area (Study 2). Given the role of TV viewing in biasing perceptions of the consequences of eating fast food, public health researchers and practitioners should carefully monitor and perhaps regulate the amount of fast-food advertising on TV and the content of TV programs. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Appetite 05/2015; 92. DOI:10.1016/j.appet.2015.05.023 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "More efficient utilization of frontier technologies in semantic analysis to assist in data mining would be beneficial for expanding the sampling period and enlarging the sampling size. Last, in urban food access studies, the maximum values for walkable distance to food retailers were loosely defined as ranging from 0.25 miles to two miles (Block & Kouba, 2006; Jeffery, Baxter, McGuire, & Linde, 2006; Mulangu & Clark, 2012), and some results were interpreted by non-spatial units, such as the percentage of travel cost in food budget (Hallett & McDermott, 2011). Based on the relatively small scale of our study, results showed that a buffer distance of less than 0.5 miles failed to capture a sufficient number of food outlets , while a distance of more than two miles showed little variation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Access to nutritious food is imperative to physical well-being and quality of life. Previous food environment studies have revealed a disparity of access to healthful food on various geographical scales. An overlooked facet of this spatial perspective is the impact of the food environment at the individual level. Individuals tend to make diverse food purchasing and dining choices, including where, when, how, and which types of food to acquire. An unexplored avenue for further investigation is measuring the extent to which people's preference for food is elicited by exposure to their immediate food environment. This paper takes an innovative approach to this question by soliciting individual data about food-related activities from social media, or specifically, “tweets” (messages sent on Twitter). With spatiotemporally tagged information, tweets provide an ideal method for measuring the exposure to the food environment in real time. This measure, as a representative of individual food access, is associated with users' particular diet choices conveyed in their tweets. By comparing groups of Twitter users who shop in grocery stores to those who dine at fast food restaurants, we found that the prevalence of grocery stores that stock fresh produce within an individual's neighborhood may significantly influence him or her to make nutritious food choices. This study has a great potential to inform health professionals and stakeholders of the significance of social media in assisting with crowdsourcing human subject data that incorporate spatiotemporal dimensions and to explore individual diets in relation to their perceived food environment, which can positively impact the health of communities.
    Applied Geography 07/2014; 51:82–89. DOI:10.1016/j.apgeog.2014.04.003 · 3.08 Impact Factor
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