Saturday, March 28, 2009

Is Distance Of Fast Food Outlet From School Related To Obesity?

Obesity is a serious health issue as when one is overweight or obese, many medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer will eventually come into picture. Worst still, the obesity rate seems to increase rapidly among schoolchildren and teens. Unhealthy lifestyle like eating too much fast food and physically inactivity are frequently blamed to cause such epidemic.

Just imagine, if there is fast food restaurant within about 500 feet (150 meters) of a school, then there will be at least 5 percent increase in the obesity rate in that school. This is revealed in a study by economists from Columbia University and the University California, Berkeley. They also suggested that a ban on fast foods in the immediate proximity of schools could have a significant effect on obesity rates among affected students.

In fact, a study reported in December 2008 that youth who study within a half mile (800 meters) from a fast food outlet ate fewer fruit and vegetables, drank more soda and were more likely to be obese than students at other schools.

Released by the American Association of Wine Economists during March 2009, the current study focused on the ninth graders, typically about 14 years old. According to the researchers, it might be good policy to have a fast-food-free zone since fast food near school causes obesity. After all, such policy does not deviate too much from existing ones aiming to suppress consumption of soft drinks and junk foods in schools or to improve quality of school lunch.

Such argument definitely makes those in the fast food business unhappy and immediately draws objection from them. They point out that it is the duty of the parents to limit their children’s allowance or let them know when and where they should not eat certain things. Furthermore, they also clarified that their menus have been changed in the last 5 years. For example, more healthy options are now available to include slices of apple, milk instead of sodas. In other words, the fast food restaurants have strived to diversify their menus and make them healthier.

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