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IUPUI study finds living near fast food outlet not a weighty problem for kids
Date:6/16/2009

INDIANAPOLIS A new study by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) researchers contradicts the conventional wisdom that living near a fast food outlet increases weight in children and that living near supermarkets, which sell fresh fruit and vegetables as well as so called junk food, lowers weight.

The IUPUI investigators in economics, pediatrics, geography and urban planning compared children's weights over time before and after one of these food purveyors moved near the children's residences. Living near a fast food outlet had little effect on weight and living near a supermarket did not lower it.

The IUPUI researchers also report that residing near certain recreational amenities -- fitness areas, kickball diamonds, and volleyball courts -- lowers children's body mass indexes (adjusted for normal childhood growth). The researchers estimated that locating one of these facilities near the home of an overweight eight-year-old boy could lower his weight by three to six pounds. Surprisingly, living in proximity to a track and field facility (typically on the campus of a middle or high school) was associated with weight gain.

Reducing obesity in children is a high priority in health care and public policy, yet its causes and, consequently, what medical interventions might be effective, are not well understood.

"This study contradicts anecdotal information and provides scientifically verified insights into a wide range of variables that we hope will help physicians and public policy makers fight childhood obesity more effectively," said the study's first author Robert Sandy, Ph.D., professor of economics and assistant executive vice president of Indiana University.

The IUPUI research, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research's Economic Aspects of Obesity, utilized electronic medical records of visits over 11 years to pediatric clinics in inner city Indianapolis to determine the
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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