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Living near fast food outlets increases risk of obesity

Researchers, from the University of the West of England, have found that children living closer to fast food outlets are more likely to gain a significant amount of weight between the first and last year of school. Using data from over 1,500 UK children the authors were able to discover a link between proximity of fast food outlet and weight gain over time, and published their results in the Journal of Public Health. The study also found that there is a higher density of fast food outlets within poorer neighbourhoods. Thus, highlighting the need for analysis of how the environment impacts on Public Health, and therefore the identification – and hopefully solution – of particular problems.

Matthew Pearce, the lead author, said that understanding the reasoning behind why the amount of children that are obese doubles between the first and last year of primary school is important to protect the future of health of children. However, the authors accept that their study only shows a relationship between the two measures and other aspects of each neighbourhood will also impact on the health of the children, such as cycling and walking infrastructure.

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