Sunday, July 03, 2011

Fast-Food Outlets Near Schools May Not Be Making Teens Fat

(HealthDay News) -- If a new survey of high school teens in Maine is any indication, locating fast-food outlets near schools may not actually affect students' chances of being overweight.

The survey polled more than 550 students in grades 9 through 12 at 11 schools throughout the state.

On the one hand, it revealed that most teens in the state are indeed consumers of fast-food staples such as burgers, fries, pizza and soft drinks. But it also indicated that the pull toward unhealthful food among these teens appears to be a function of generally bad dietary habits and poor nutritional knowledge, rather than the location of fast-food outlets.

"Our hypothesis was that the so-called 'built environment' -- what a person's environment around them might be -- would have an influence on the [teens'] diet and obesity rate," explained study co-author Janet Whatley Blum, an associate professor in the department of exercise, health and sports science at the University of Southern Maine. "But in terms of their school environment, we did not find that," she said. Read more...

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