A new study in California shows a strong link between teen obesity and the proximity of fast food restaurants to schools.
According to an article in the LA Times, the presence of a fast food chain like McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut within walking distance of school (about 530 feet or less) resulted in a 5.2 percent increase in incidence of student obesity when compared with students attending schools NOT near restaurants.
Although obesity can be caused by several things including genetics, lack of exercise, and nutrition, researchers believe that proximity to schools is a contributing factor. Students say that they not only consume a lot of fast food because it's the closest place to get food near school, but also that they often hang out a lot at these establishments. Moreover, researchers think that the situation is especially dire for young people, who may be more susceptible to the temptation of fast food compared with people of other age groups.
In an effort to curtail growing rates of diabetes and heart disease among young people, state and local governments in California (and across the country) have started to ban certain foods in schools including soda, junk food, trans fats, and even bake sales.
Could banning fast food restaurants near schools be next? Or is it enough to teach nutrition in schools? What do you think should be done?