Fast food in low-income areas: Cheap and deadly

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the link between fast food restaurants and diabetes. According to a study headed by UCLA's Center for Health Policy, the number of fast food joints in one's neighborhood has a direct, measurable effect on one's changes of developing diabetes. In fact, the study generated an measurement method, the "Retail Food Environment Index," and determined that people who lived in areas with and "RFEI" of 5 or more had a 23% greater chance of being obese than people who lived in areas with an RFEI of 3 or below.

Los Angeles councilwoman Jan Perry has issued a proposal that takes the RFEI to the next level. Her ordinance would place a two-year moratorium on the construction of any new fast food restaurants in South Central Los Angeles. This makes perfect sense: according to the Los Angeles Times, South LA has the highest percentage of fast food restaurants in the city, which has resulted in an obesity rate that is just under 30%, almost 10% higher than the obesity rate in the rest of LA county. Among children, the obesity rate was 29%, almost 6% higher than in the rest of the county. Similarly, the area's diabetes rate is over 25%, more than 10% higher than the rest of the county.

Many other areas, particularly small, wealthy enclaves, have already placed bans or limitations on fast food restaurants. However, this ordinance, should it pass, will place a particularly large hardship on the fast food industry, as it completely dominates the South LA dining scene.

As somebody who has a McDonald's, a Burger King, a KFC, a Kennedy Fried Chicken, and a Dunkin' Donuts all within a one-block radius of his apartment, I can only wish that Jan Perry would have a heart-to-heart with some of my elected representatives!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. In truth, he gets most of his trans fats and empty carbs from the Mexican restaurants in his area. Sometimes, he dreams of a carne enchilada taco with extra crema...
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