Although fast food is readily available to most of us in the developed, and increasingly, developing worlds, if it isn’t on our immediate doorstep we may be less inclined to consume it, according to new research from the US.

fast-foodIn a study focusing on African-Americans, researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that those who lived within 3km of fast food outlets were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who lived further away.

Socio-economic factors were also identified: fast food outlets are more likely to be nearer to lower income neighbourhoods, although in the study of 1,400 people, proximity to fast food outlets was the key factor, regardless of income.

‘The results of this study add to the literature indicating that a person’s neighbourhood environment and the foods that they’re exposed to can contribute to a higher BMI’ said study leader Lorraine Reitzel.  It was found that there were an average of 2.5 fast-food restaurants within 0.8km of study participants’ homes, 4.5 within 1.6km, 11.4 within 3km and 71.3 outlets within 8km.

Although cause and effect was not proven, Reitzel said; ‘There’s something about living close to a fast-food restaurant that’s associated with a higher BMI. Fast food is specifically designed to be affordable, appealing and convenient. People are pressed for time, and they behave in such a way that will cost them the least amount of time to get things done, and this may extend to their food choices.’

Lack of transport for low-income earners was also cited as a possible link between the 3km (2 mile) zone and higher BMI: ‘This may also be why there were significant associations for density and BMI within two miles of the home, which is an easily walkable distance, but not five miles of the home’ said Reitzel.

Source: University of Texas


A UK study has found a link between drinking one can of sugar-sweetened drink a day and a 22 per cent increase in incidence of diabetes.

Following previous research proving a link between soft drinks and obesity and diabetes, researchers from Imperial College, London, wanted to determine whether a similar link existed in Europe.Data pertaining to consumption of juices and soft drinks and incidence of type 2 diabetes from 350,000 study participants from the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark, France, Sweden and the Netherlands was analysed.

The study found that daily consumption of 336ml (one can) of sugar-sweetened soft drink elevated the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 22 per cent. After accounting for BMI and total energy intake, this dropped to 18 per cent.

A link was also found between artificially sweetened soft drinks and diabetes risk, but after accounting for BMI, this link ceased to exist. No significant link was found between nectar or pure fruit juice consumption and diabetes.

Source: Diabetologia