Is Fast-Food Ban Enough to Reduce Obesity Rates?
A Los Angeles ordinance designed to curb obesity in low-income areas by restricting the opening of new fast-food restaurants has failed to reduce fast-food consumption or reduce obesity rates in the targeted neighborhoods, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Yet a senior official at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) called the study’s conclusion “very misleading”, pointing out that a multi-faceted approach is needed to curb obesity in these areas.
Since the fast-food restrictions were passed in 2008, overweight and obesity rates in South L.A. and other neighborhoods targeted by the law have increased faster than in other parts of the city or other parts of the county, according to RAND findings published online by the journal Social Science & Medicine.
“The South Los Angeles fast-food ban may have symbolic value, but it has had no measurable impact in improving diets or reducing obesity,” said Roland Sturm, lead author of the study and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “This should not come as a surprise: Most food outlets in the area are small food stores or small restaurants with limited seating that are not affected by the policy.”
“We know that to prevent obesity, we have to start early in life.” - Dr. Paul Simon
The fast-food ban restricts the opening or expansion of any “stand alone fast-food restaurant” in Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park and portions of South and Southeast L.A. While the rule was not the nation's first local regulation limiting fast-food outlets, it was the first one presented as a public health measure by advocates.
Dr. Paul Simon, Director of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at DPH, expressed concerns over the RAND study’s conclusion.
“I think technically the study was well done, but I think the conclusion is very misleading,” Simon said. “There is no single intervention that is going to turn the curve on obesity. For us to impact the epidemic, we're going to need to do many things simultaneously.”
Restaurants are going to be a key target, Simon said. If you examine the trends over the past 30 to 40 years, spending on eating out in restaurants has doubled.
“It makes sense,” Simon pointed out. “Many families eat out at least once a day. And here’s the fact: on average when you eat out, you eat a lot more calories, too much added sugar and saturated fat. Not just fast food, but also at sit down restaurants. That’s why we believe our Choose Health LA Restaurants campaign is so important.”
Funded in part by First 5 LA, Choose Health LA Restaurants is a voluntary program with L.A. County restaurants. In order for a restaurant to participate, Simon said, they must offer smaller portion options for a specific number of menu items; children’s meals must meet certain nutrition standards and sugar-sweetened beverages cannot be the default drink; and free chilled water must be available.
About 600 local Subway restaurants and 50 other restaurants currently participate in Choose Health LA Restaurants, Simon said, with about 60 additional restaurants currently receiving technical assistance to join the program.
“The Choose Health LA Restaurant Program is an innovative approach to reducing childhood obesity, said First 5 LA Program Development Officer Mercedes Perezchica, who oversees the agency’s $41 million, four-year Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative (ECOPI) with DPH.
As part of ECOPI, Perezchica said, there will be several strategies that communities choose to engage in in order to improve systems and community environments. Twenty community groups throughout the County will be looking at how unhealthy products are promoted in retail stores and checkout aisles.
“We know that to prevent obesity, we have to start early in life,” Simon said. “With the help of First 5 LA, I think we have the biggest initiative in the nation targeted to young children and families.”
learn more about this info-graphic at: http://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects...
Related Topics: Nutrition
Research shows that when people immigrate to the United States, their diet changes...Read More