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Los Angeles fast-food restaurant ban unlikely to cut obesity, study finds
Date:10/6/2009

Restrictions on fast-food chain restaurants in South Los Angeles are not addressing the main differences between neighborhood food environments and are unlikely to improve the diet of residents or reduce obesity, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

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, according to the study published online by the journal Health Affairs.

"The Los Angeles ordinance may have been an important first by being concerned with health outcomes, but it is not the most promising approach to lowering the high rate of obesity in South Los Angeles," said Roland Sturm, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "It does not address the main differences we see in the food environment between Los Angeles neighborhoods nor in the diet of residents."

The Los Angeles City Council in August 2008 approved a ban on opening or expanding fast-food restaurants in an area of the city known as South Los Angeles. The ordinance focused on fast food restaurants characterized by "excessive signage, little or no landscaping, large expanses of surface parking, drive-through windows, multiple driveways, parking lots fronting the street" and argued that the low-income region had a higher concentration of fast-food establishments than more-affluent sections of the city.

But an analysis by Sturm and study co-author Dr. Deborah Cohen found that South Los Angeles actually has a lower concentration of fast-food chain restaurants than other parts of the city.

Researchers found there were about 19
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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