Fatter Kids Walk to School!

03 May


As discussed in the paper, we find a larger impact of the top 10 fast-food chains than for the broader definition of fast-foods.  To conserve space, we show estimates for the broad definition excluding ice cream, donuts, and coffee shops, and for the top 10 chains.

The Effect of Fast Food On Obesity: 5% association with fatter kids (who live and walk to school?)

The Effect of Fast Food On Obesity, a paper put together by social scientists associated with the University of California, Berkeley, presented this opening abstract. Not really much need to read the rest of the paper, assuming you can, to understand the technical elements. The numbers are pretty clear; the conclusions as represented.

Now what is the reason again that we don’t do something to use the physical power of this phenomenon for a movement for good?

Passing a few nickels and dimes through the money system of the fast food sector (excluding some of the best flavored versions, of course) would have likely no impact on their bottom line. Yet it could well do much for what the rest of us want to do as we seek to empower our locality to influence the food that we eat and that is near to the ones we consider dear.

Here is the opening abstract for your digestion. The full article is viewable at

Abstract. We investigate the health consequences of changes in the supply of fast food using the exact geographical location of fast food restaurants.  Specifically, we ask how the supply of fast food affects the obesity rates of 3 million school children and the weight gain of over 1 million pregnant women.  We find that among 9th grade children, a fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school is associated with at least a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rates. There is no discernable effect at .25 miles and at .5 miles. Among pregnant women, models with mother fixed effects indicate that a fast food restaurant within a half mile of her residence results in a 2.5 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos. The effect is larger, but less precisely estimated at .1 miles. In contrast, the presence of non-fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with obesity and weight gain. Moreover, proximity to future fast food restaurants is uncorrelated with current obesity and weight gain, conditional on current proximity to fast food. The implied effects of fast-food on caloric intake are at least one order of magnitude smaller for mothers, which suggests that they are less constrained by travel costs than school children. Our results imply that policies restricting access to fast food near schools could have significant effects on obesity among school children, but similar policies restricting the availability of fast food in residential areas are unlikely to have large effects on adults.  


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