Obese kids? Don’t live near fast food joints


London: That friendly fast food kiosk at the corner of your street could be the reason for your child’s unwanted weight gain!

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Children living in areas surrounded by fast food outlets are more likely to be overweight or obese, shows new research.

“We found that the more unhealthy food outlets there are in a neighbourhood, the greater the number of overweight and obese children,” explained professor Andy Jones from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School.

The research 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.

“The results were more pronounced in secondary school children who have more spending power to choose their own food,” said Jones.

But the association was reversed in areas with more healthy food options available.

“This is important because obesity among children can lead to childhood diabetes, low self-esteem and orthopaedic and cardiovascular problems,” said Jones.

According to Andreea Cetateanu from UEA’s school of environmental sciences, “If we can use these findings to help create a more healthy food environment, we may be able to help reverse this trend for future generations.”

The research also took into account factors such as people living in rural locations having to travel further to buy food, said the study published in the journal Health and Place.