THURSDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Having a fast-food restaurant nearby might be a convenience, but living within two miles of one may be a little too convenient.
According to a new study, black Americans who live near these businesses have a higher body-mass index than those living farther away.
Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found this was particularly true for those with a lower income. Body-mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat that takes into account a person's height and weight.
The findings are significant because black people are at greater risk for the negative health effects associated with obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, the study authors pointed out.
"According to prior research, African-Americans, particularly women, have higher rates of obesity than other ethnic groups, and the gap is growing," study leader Lorraine Reitzel, an assistant professor in the department of health disparities research at M.D. Anderson, said in a university news release.
"The results of this study add to the literature indicating that a person's neighborhood environment and the foods that they're exposed to can contribute to a higher BMI," she said.
"We need to find the relationships and triggers that relate to this population's BMI, as they're at the greatest risk for becoming obese and developing associated health problems. Such information can help inform policies and interventions to prevent health disparities," Reitzel explained.
The study involved more than 1,400 black adults divided into two groups: those making less than $40,000 per year and those making $40,000 or more per year. The researchers considered whether or not the participants had children, and took into account gender, age, physical activity and education, along with other factors that could influence their BMI.
The investigators also analyzed how close the participants li
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