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Living or working near fast food may raise obesity risk
People who live or work close to fast food restaurants may be more at risk for obesity, according to new research from the U.K.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge investigated the implications of reports showing that consumption of food outside the home has increased in the U.K. by nearly 30 percent over the last decade. Using data from a population-based cohort study that involved almost 5,500 people between ages 29 and 62, the researchers looked at the participants’ fast food consumption, fast food exposure, body mass index (BMI) and risk of being overweight or obese. The participants also wore heart rate sensors, which provided researchers with data about physical activity levels.
The results of the study showed that the people with the highest levels of exposure to fast food restaurants consumed an average of 5.7 more grams of fast food per day and were twice as likely to be obese, when compared with the participants who were least exposed to fast food restaurants. Researchers also found that the study participants were exposed to almost 50 percent more fast food restaurants at work than they were at home.
The study did not discuss whether the research team controlled certain environmental factors associated with obesity, such as smoking status, household income or sex. The study also did not take into consideration the availability of fast food, such as pizza, burgers or fries, at cafeterias or other types of shops.
Because multiple factors could have contributed to the study’s findings, published on bmj.com, researchers noted that the link between obesity and environmental factors cannot yet be confirmed. They explained that the significance of the research lies in its implications for food policy, which they said may do well to limit fast food availability, particularly when it comes to workplace vicinity.