The UIC researchers found that, outside of school, it does not get much easier for kids to consume a healthy diet. Too many kids live in neighborhoods where fast-food restaurants and convenience stores far outnumber supermarkets. This is especially true in lower-income communities.
UIC economist Lisa Powell found a statistically significant association between the availability of supermarkets and lower adolescent and overweight status. In addition, Powell found a statistically significant association between the availability of convenience stores and higher overweight status.
"In communities where convenience stores outnumber supermarkets and fast-food restaurants are particularly prevalent, we're making it extremely difficult for parents and kids to eat balanced, healthy diets," Powell said. "These families simply don't have easy access to affordable fresh foods."
Powell and her colleagues also found that high-income neighborhoods have a significantly lower proportion of fast-food restaurants than do lower-income neighborhoods. There are also racial disparities: predominantly African-American urban neighborhoods have a significantly higher proportion of fast-food restaurants out of total restaurants compared with predominantly white urban neighborhoods.
"I think that the role of the environment in bringing about the epidemic of overweight among our children is still not fully appreciated," Johnston said. "There are many influences in our schools, communities and the media that contribute significantly to the problem and that can be changed for the better. If we don't make those changes, the consequences in terms of the health, longevity and the health care costs of our newest generations
|Contact: Joe Serwach|
University of Michigan