Everybody Does It! Rich and Poor Eat Fast Food

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jay L. Zagorsky

Center for Human Resource Research
The Ohio State University and
Patricia K. Smith PhD
Department of Social Sciences
University of Michigan-Dearborn

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The prevalence of adult obesity in the U.S. has risen substantially, from about 13% in the early 1960s to nearly 38% now.  Obesity is associated with a variety of illnesses and imposes significant costs on individuals and society.

Socioeconomic (SES) gradients in health and the prevalence of disease, including obesity, have been documented: health improves and disease prevalence falls as we move up each step of the SES ladder.  Differences in nutrition could help explain these health gradients and Americans commonly think the poor eat fast food more often than those in the middle and upper classes. Policy based on this notion has been proposed.  For example, in 2008 Los Angeles placed a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in poor neighborhoods.

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Living Close To Fast Food Restaurants Not Linked To Obesity

Junfeng Jiao, PhD Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Director, Urban Information Lab Austin, TexasMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Junfeng Jiao, PhD
Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture
Director, Urban Information Lab
Austin, Texas

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Jiao: The increase in obesity rates has been explained by dietary changes including the consumption of high-energy, low-nutrient foods. Over the past thirty years, trends reveal increases of eating away from home. Public Health professionals have hypothesized that the heightened exposure to the ubiquitous fast food establishments may be an avenue through which health and diets are impacted.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Jiao: This study examined whether the reported health impacts of eating at a fast food or quick service establishment on a frequent basis were associated with having such a restaurant near home. Results indicated that eating at a fast food or quick service restaurant two times or more per week was related with perceived poor health status, overweight, and obese. Simply living close to such establishments was not related to negative health outcomes such as being overweight or obese, having cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes.

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More Fast Food Outlets, More Diabetes?

Dr. Patrice Carter Diabetes, Nutrition & Lifestyle Research Associate Diabetes Research Centre (Broadleaf) University of Leicester Leicester General Hospital Leicester UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Patrice Carter
Diabetes, Nutrition & Lifestyle Research Associate
Diabetes Research Centre (Broadleaf) University of Leicester
Leicester General Hospital Leicester UK

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Carter: Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern, worldwide prevalence is expected to increase to 552million by 2030.  Prevalence is closely linked to increasing obesity rates which are associated to environmental changes that have led to more sedentary lifestyles and poor-quality dietary intake.  Consumption of fast food has previously been linked to the obesity epidemic and consumption is associated with low adherence to dietary recommendations.

We analysed data of over 10,000 individuals to investigate the association between screen detected type 2 diabetes and the number of fast food outlets in their neighbourhood.

In summary we found the mean number of fast food outlets in areas with high social deprivation as compared to low social deprivation; mean number  of outlets was 3.53 (SD 4.83) and 0.91 (1.89) respectively. The number of fast food outlets was positively associated with screen-detected type 2 diabetes (OR=1.05; 95% CI 1.04, 1.07; p<0.001).  In addition, we used these data to calculate that for every additional two outlets we would expect to see one more diabetes case, assuming a 7% prevalence of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes in neighbourhoods with no outlets and approximately 200 residents in a 500m radius, and assuming a causal relationship.

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Fast Food Marketing Targets Middle Income, Black and Rural Kids

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Ph.D.,R.D Associate Professor, Nutrition Arizona State University School of Nutrition and Health Promotion College of Health Solutions Phoenix, AZ 85004 MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Ph.D.,R.D
Associate Professor, Nutrition
Arizona State University
School of Nutrition and Health Promotion
College of Health Solutions Phoenix, AZ 85004

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ohri-Vachaspati: Fast food is heavily marketed to kids — with the food industry spending over $700 million each year to market their products specifically to children and adolescents.  About half of this money goes towards premiums like toys given away with kids meals. And marketing works –exposure to food marketing is associated with higher fast food consumption among children.  Research has shown us that 2-18 year olds consume 13% of their total calories at fast food restaurants.  Children who eat at fast food restaurants are likely to have poor diets and worse health outcomes.

In this study we wanted to examine which communities are more vulnerable to child-directed marketing on the interior and exterior of fast food restaurants. Over a three year  period (2010, 2011, and 2012) we sampled nearly 7000 restaurants from a whole spectrum of communities across the US.  Child-directed marketing measured inside fast food restaurants included indoor play area and display of kids’ meal toys, and on the exterior included advertisements with cartoon characters, advertisements with movie, TV or sports figures, and advertisements for kids’ meal toys among others.We found that more than a fifth of fast food restaurants used child-directed marketing on the inside or on the exterior of their premises. Middle-income communities, majority black communities and rural areas were disproportionately exposed to this type of child-directed marketing.
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