Category Archives: Our Opinion

Writings and commentary about what we think.

Fatter Kids Walk to School!


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.  


Helping Jamie Oliver with Small Change

I applied for a job with Jamie Oliver through his foundation. I really couldn’t find another to speak at him, other than by sending in a recipe or buying some of his many commercial products. The man is, without question, a marketing machine.

Who can blame him? Money is the name of the food game; completely, absolutely, and some would say necessarily so. Though Brazil’s hunt for Zero Hunger suggests otherwise.

But I digress. I sent in a job application for some special events position because they give you room for a couple of paragraphs to talk about important issues – which I presume means to put your personal face forward.

I put the face of the Nickel-a-Meal Campaign forward. And I actually didn’t get blocked or anything; I got a personal response.

Not a good one, of course. Seems he’s busy, can’t possibly consider every idea that comes through, and does have some nice projects in the works. Mostly in Europe. Which I suspect may be related to the way Los Angeles treated him.

But that’s not fair to say yet. We’ve only seen two episodes of the 2011 season. And those editors do have a way of deceiving us.

I really don’t have much hope to jump to the top yet, but I find it interesting that, even with good corporate sponsorship, he is constantly in need for more resources. He can do the little things he needs and I know he’s not hurting for basic operating money. To get the big players to notice, however, those amounts aren’t going to work.

Jamie couldn’t even give the local burger guy in LA double what he makes in two weeks to use that guys site to come up with healthy food. The proprietor thinks it will hurt his reputation if the other restaurant boys and girls he plays will see him in the playground with healthy food.

The only way to address this is by having large numbers of people taking the same tactics with the power of a continuous flow of IMPACTFUL INVESTMENT dollars? Which will not materialize unless those who want a return on their investment see that a steady flow of earned income is possible.

Stew this, folks, and see if you agree with me about what Jamie’s problem is. Lots and lots and lots of nickels and dimes. I found it funny when Jamie did his homework and brought down the cost of the meat for his healthier burger to just a few cents more than the regular guy paid. Those few cents still made a difference – which is, of course, the very point of my thinking about change.

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Helping Jamie, Our Opinion