Seeing More Fast Food Tied to Eating More Fast Food, Research Finds

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Seeing More Fast Food Tied to Eating More Fast Food, Research Finds

New research finds that seeing more fast food means you might eat more too. Learn how daily exposure to fast food chains affects your health.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered that people who encountered fast food restaurants often were nearly twice as likely to be obese than those who weren't as exposed.

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Researchers studied the eating habits of 5,442 adults in Cambridgeshire, England. They also examined the number of fast food and takeout restaurants surrounding the subjects' homes.

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The researchers gathered their data by giving the participants questionnaires that queried their intake of foods like pizza and burgers. They also took the body mass index of the subjects.

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The study found that people exposed to the most fast food restaurants had an average body mass index (BMI) 1.21 points higher than those who were less likely to encounter fast food restaurants.

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Dr. Thomas Burgoine, an author of the study explained the unsurprising results of the study to The Independent. "All of us make our food purchasing decisions in an environmental context – no-one lives in a vacuum. In the last 20 years food environments in our cities, towns and neighborhoods have changed dramatically. Takeaway food outlets are now more accessible than they’ve ever been."

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Dr. Burgoine believes that environment is a hugely influential on what we choose to eat. He explains, "...we have a food environment in which it’s increasingly easy to make unhealthy food choices. Some people live in a place where it’s easier to make healthy choices than others. If the only health you have is an unhealthy choice that’s not really a choice.”

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Researchers also found that people encountered on average 48 percent more fast food at work than they did at home.

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Numerous research has found that fast food is high in sodium and saturated fat, which could increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

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Dr. Burgoine acknowledges that the study didn't measure whether limiting the number of fast food restaurants in a neighborhood could affect the health of its inhabitants, but he believes that it could be one part of the solution to decrease levels of obesity.

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Everyone knows how hard it is to resist a cookie within reach.

New research now finds that the temptation extends beyond the dinner table. Just seeing more fast food restaurants could be enough to make you eat at them more according to a new study. It might seem like common sense that exposure would increase patronage, but now the research can claim this is an actual phenomenon.

Check out the slideshow above to learn more about how seeing more fast food could make you want to eat it more.

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