Do Fast Food Restaurants Cluster Around High Schools? A Geospatial Analysis of Proximity of Fast Food Restaurants to High Schools and the Connection to Childhood Obesity Rates
AbstractNationwide, approximately 30% of children consume fast food on a typical day, and caloric intake from fast food has increased fivefold over the past three decades. Our analysis adds to a growing body of public health and planning research through a geospatial analysis of fast food restaurants in Santa Clara County, California. We selected 41 high schools, representing 97% of enrollment in the county, and examined proximity to fast food restaurants within 400 meters (437 yards) and 800 meters (875 yards) of the schools. Our results indicate that fast food restaurants are clustered near high schools with higher obesity rates. In addition, observation of student behavior suggests that many students patronize these establishments after school and often make poor nutritional choices, consuming from 30% to 75% of the daily recommended allowance of calories for teens in a single after-school snack. Since there appears to be a relationship, albeit complex, between the built environment and public health, there also is an opportunity to develop more effective planning policies and programs to encourage active behavior and healthy eating choices.
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