Are fast food restaurants to blame for the rise in global obesity? According to research published in the Critical Public Health journal, some scientists do believe that fast food restaurants are responsible for the global obesity epidemic.
Roberto De Vogli from the University of Michigan's School of Public Health and his colleagues studied the relationship between the density in fast food restaurants and obesity prevalence in affluent nations. These researchers looked at Subway restaurants per 100, 000 people and their effect on obesity prevalence in male and female consumers aged 15 years and older.
Their investigation found that obesity was most prevalent in the US and Canada - both of which had the highest density of Subway restaurants. By contrast, Japan and Norway had a lower density of Subway restaurants and a less obese population.
According to data from De Vogli's study, Subway restaurants don't help people to lose weight, they add to the problem.
Based on the findings of his study the researcher said: "Our study raises serious concerns about the diffusion of fast food outlets worldwide and calls for coordinated political actions to address what we term 'globesization', the ongoing globalization of the obesity epidemic."
De Vogli's investigation directly contradicts a Harvard Medical School study. Jason Block, of Harvard's Department of Popular Medicine, followed 3113 participants who lived near fast food restaurants. Block's thirty year follow up (1971 - 2001) found no association between fast food restaurants and obesity.
However, a University of Chicago study headed up by Jens Ludwig concluded that low income people who live near fast food restaurants are more likely to gain weight than people in affluent neighborhoods.
Interestingly, Ludwig's study suggested that the prevalence of obesity in poor neighborhoods was linked to the convenience of cheap meals sold at fast food restaurants. In other words, Ludwig's study asserted that poverty was driving obesity but De Vogli's analysis concluded just the opposite.
These conflicting studies can lead people to ask "Who is right?"
People Can Make Their Own Choices
Sometimes scientific studies can be very confusing. What was once thought to be good is suddenly bad, but the next day someone says that it's good again. Thus, it's reasonable to wonder if fast food really does make people fat.
The answer depends on how you look at it. Eating a lot of high calorie food can cause you to gain weight - particularly if you don't burn the excess calories through exercise.
But fast food isn't inherently bad for you. Most fast food restaurants offer a variety of different foods to choose from. It's up to you and me to pick the right ones.
The New York Department of Health and Human Hygiene found that when New York City fast food restaurant patrons were presented with facts about the calories of the food on the menu, they used the information to choose healthier meals.
It comes down to personal responsibility. When people have knowledge it's up to them how they will use it.
Globelization and urbanization are fueled by the need for human expansion.
Restaurants are going to follow the population i.e. they'll open in places where they're most likely to get a lot of customers.
Having a fast food restaurant located in your neighborhood doesn't mean you have to eat there. Nor does it mean that you have to overeat fast food should you ever decide to stop in for a bite.
Of course this is my opinion. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus spoke these words: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
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De Vogli, R., Kouvonen, A., & Gimeno, D. (2011). ‘Globesization’: ecological evidence on the relationship between fast food outlets and obesity among 26 advanced economies Critical Public Health, 21 (4), 395-402 DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2011.619964
"Uh Oh! Eating Out Is Making The Whole World Fat" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.