Ban on fast-food restaurants unlikely to cut obesity

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Washington, Oct 6 (ANI): Fast-food restaurants have always been criticised for promoting unhealthy eating habits, with health campaigners calling for a ban on them. But a new study has shown that even imposing restrictions wouldn't help cut health risk among junk food lovers.

The study conducted in South Los Angeles region, where fast-food chains have been banned, showed that the restrictions are unlikely to improve diet or reduce obesity; instead focusing on the sources of snack calories might play a vital role.

Researchers from RAND Health found that the South Los Angeles region has no more fast-food chain establishments on a per capita basis than other parts of the city, but rather many more small food stores and other food outlets.

Those outlets are more likely to be the source of high-calorie snacks and soda consumed substantially more often by residents of South Los Angeles as compared to other parts of the city.

The researchers found there were about 19 fast-food chain restaurants per 100,000 residents in South Los Angeles, while there were 29 per 100,000 people in affluent West Los Angeles and 30 per 100,000 residents for all of Los Angeles County.

However, density of small food stores was about double that of the county average and more than three times the number in West Los Angeles.

The survey involving 1,480 people showed that that adults in South Los Angeles consumed significantly more "discretionary" calories from sugary or salty snacks and soft drinks compared with residents of wealthier neighborhoods.

"The ubiquitous availability of food can be overwhelming and stimulate hunger and cravings for food, regardless of whether an individual has a physiological need for nutrition," said Dr. Deborah Cohen, from RAND.

"Research has made it clear that frequency and saliency of food cues in the environment, the type of foods available, and the portion sizes served, are key issues that effective policies need to address," she added.

The study is published online by the journal Health Affairs. (ANI)

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