Living near fast-food restaurants and supermarkets has been earlier blamed to affect individual’s body weight. But a new study claims that living near restaurants or supermarkets has hardly any impact on a person’s body mass index. Public policies targeting to reduce the number of fast-food restaurants and increase the number of supermarkets have little or no impacts on weight loss. Although, such policies can make it easier for people to access healthier alternatives of food.
"Fast food is generally not good for you, and supermarkets do sell healthy food, but our results suggest blocking the opening of a new fast-food restaurant or subsidising a local supermarket will do little to reduce obesity," said Coady Wing from Indiana University in the US.
The research team based its findings on the Weight and Veterans’ Environments Study, which is comprehensive database dating from 2009 to 2014 and covering 1.7 million veterans living in 382 metropolitan areas in the US. The researchers studied how BMI changed with each veteran and matched it with the locations of fast-food restaurants like Target and Walmart. The researchers calculated BMI by using height and weight measurements taken when the veterans visited a doctor, nurse practitioner or other provider.
They added up the number of chain fast-food restaurants, supermarkets and other food outlets within one mile and three miles of the person's residence. With that information, the researchers could track BMI changes, even when a person moved from one area to another or when a fast-food or other outlet opened or closed.
The previous study on the topic has been based on snapshots in time, known as cross-sectional data and had suggested there was a link between the food outlets access and BMI. There are no evidence to back the policies based on that presume association.
(With IANS Inputs)