Kids who live near fast food joints more likely to be obese
Scientists have found that children who live in close proximity of fast food outlets are more likely to be overweight or obese.
New research, conducted by University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), looked at weight data from more than a million children and compared it with the availability of unhealthy food from outlets including fish and chip shops, burger bars, pizza places, and sweet shops.
They found that older children in particular are more likely to be overweight when living in close proximity to a high density of unhealthy eating outlets.
Prof Andy Jones, from UEA's Norwich Medical School who led the research, said that they found that the more unhealthy food outlets there are in a neighbourhood, the greater the number of overweight and obese children.
The results were more pronounced in secondary school children who have more spending power to choose their own food, but the association was reversed in areas with more healthy food options available Jones said.
"This is important because there is an epidemic of obesity among children in the UK and other industrialised countries. It can lead to childhood diabetes, low self-esteem, and orthopaedic and cardiovascular problems. It is also a big problem because around 70 per cent of obese children and teenagers also go on to have weight problems in later life," Jones said.
The research team used data from the National Child Measurement Programme which records the height and weight of one million children at the majority of state schools in England annually.
They took into account factors such as people living in rural locations having to travel further to buy food, and other variables such as the proportion of children living in low income households and measurements of green space which have both been associated with exercise in children.
The study is published in the journal Health and Place.
(Posted on 14-02-2014)