Location of ‘fast-food’ restaurants linked with obesity

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Researchers in the UK have stated that the restriction of fast-food businesses around residential areas and offices could help combat obesity.

Individuals that lived, worked or commuted close to fast food outlets have been found to eat about 40 grams of extra fat each week and often have a higher body mass index than those further away. This has prompted the Medical Research Council to call on local authorities to limit the amount of takeaway outlets in a particular area.

The lead author of this study, Dr Thomas Burgoine, confirmed that the study has indicated a relationship between the number of fast food outlets around us, the consumption of this type of food and our weight. It is known that the food that is obtained from these outlets is not as healthy as home-made meals.

The research is the first of its kind to combine data taken from work, commuting and home statistics. It involved 5,442 adult participants, aged 29 to 62, from Cambridgeshire.
The participants were exposed to an average of 32 fast food outlets. There were nine each in their residential neighbourhood and where they commuted. There were 14 situated within one mile of their business premises. The study found that the number of fast-food outlets near their places of work exceeded those closer to home by 48%.

The researchers took note of the quantity of takeaway foods consumers ate. This was done by using questionnaires related to foods such as burgers, pizza, chips and fried food. They also did measurements of the participants’ body mass index.

The results of the study indicated that people who were exposed to the highest incidences of takeaways carried the risk of having much higher BMI and be 80% more likely to be obese than those with fewer incidences. They were also more prone to eat more of this type of meal.

Those who were more exposed to fast-food outlets ate an extra daily 5.7g of fast food. This makes up around 15% more than those who are least exposed to these outlets.

Image credit: Thomas Crenshaw

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Emma Brown

Emma graduated in 2005 from the University of York with a degree in English Literature. A huge passion for writing and health topics, Emma is a perfect match for Health News UK. Hobbies include; cooking, writing (of course), musicals and her 2 dogs.

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