September 2, 2009

No car plus fast-food joints = weight gain

People who live close to fast-food restaurants and do not have access to a car are more likely than others to have excess weight, U.S. researchers said.

University of Pittsburgh researchers used data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Study involving a survey of 2,156 adults in 63 neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.

The study, published in the Journal of Urban Health, found car owners on average weighed 8.5 pounds more than non-car owners, except in areas with high-fast food concentration, meaning five fast-food restaurants per mile.

Non-car owners in high fast food concentration areas were found to weigh 2.7 pounds more than car owners who lived in the same areas and 12 pounds more than residents of areas without fast-food outlets. People who didn't own a car and lived in areas without fast-food outlets weighed the least.

People who are less affluent don't own cars and can't go distances for healthier foods, lead author Dr. Sanae Inagami of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said in a statement. As a result, they may end up opting for the lower-priced and high-caloric foods available at fast food chains.