Living near fast food is and is not linked to obesity

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The results of scientific surveys are a blogger's bread and butter, and occasionally a source of amusement. In the past few weeks, two studies looking at the relationship between living near fast food outlets and obesity have come to polar opposite conclusions.

A study led by John Spence of the University of Alberta, Canada, created a metric by adding together the number of fast-food and convenience store outlets within half a mile of a person's house and dividing it by the total of supermarkets and specialty food stores. For example, within half mile of my house are four fast food outlets and three convenience stores, or 10 total. There are three groceries.

By comparing this 'Retail Food Environment Index", or RFEI, of an individual against his/her weight, researchers were able to show that crap food proximity and obesity were positively linked.