Higher rates of diabetes and obesity occur in neighborhoods -- regardless of the residents' income, race or ethnicity -- where fast-food restaurants and convenience stores greatly outnumber grocery stores and produce vendors, according to a statewide study released today.
"One of the points that this study makes is that we can't just look at issues of weight as a personal choice," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County's public health director, who was not associated with the study. "We are affected by our environment. We understand that when we're talking about air quality, but we forget it affects what we eat."
At least two of the study's recommendations -- requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie and fat content on menu boards and placing zoning restrictions on new outlets -- have already drawn opposition from the California Restaurant Assn.
"To suggest that living near a quick-service restaurant is a health threat akin to living next to a coal plant is ludicrous," said Jot Condie, association president. "Restaurants are playing a role in making more choices available, but in the end, individuals control what, where and when they eat."