Blackspot

Ban Fast Food Near Schools

A recent study correlates the proximity of fast food to schools with the obesity of students.

I was recently driving past a public high school during its lunch break when I witnessed a troubling sight. A hungry horde of teens was streaming out the doors of the school and looking for a place to eat. A quick glance about the area revealed their limited options: a McDonald's across the street or a Taco Bell a block further away. If those two options didn't appeal, there was always the local convenience store with frozen microwavable options. I wondered about the long-term consequences of allowing a fast food “restaurant” to open within walking distance of a school. Now, thanks to the work of economists at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University, we have scientific evidence that fast food near schools results in student obesity. Could these findings be the beginning of a movement to ban fast food near our children's schools?

Sometimes it takes a detailed scientific study to prove what we already knew. This eight-year study looked at the weight of over three million school children and a million pregnant women. The researchers concluded that “among 9th grade children, a fast food restaurant within a tenth of a mile of a school is associated with at least a 5.2 percent increase in obesity rate” and for pregnant women “a fast food restaurant within a half mile of her residence results in a 2.5 percent increase in the probability of gaining over 20 kilos.” (full study results)

What is interesting about this study is that it provides culture jammers with a concrete, reasonable and accomplishable goal for improving the health of children. As the researchers point out, there is no discernible effect on obesity when the fast food restaurants are located further than 1/4 miles from the school entrance. We could see a substantial decrease in childhood obesity by simply moving fast food restaurants a mere 400 meters from schools.

There is historical precedent for this type of campaign. Anti-noise activists inspired by Theodor Lessing around the turn of the 20th century, for example, were successful in introducing clauses into city ordinances that require quiet within a certain distance of schools and hospitals. These laws continue to persist in the books in many cities across the States (including my own state, New York). In the States there is also a mandated “Drug Free Zone” around schools. And, according to the Los Angeles Times, LA already “has a one-year moratorium on new fast-food outlets in a 32-square-mile area of South LA.” (source)

A few vocal citizens in communities across the world can immediately decrease childhood obesity simply by stating the obvious: kids need healthy food. We can launch a movement for “Healthy Food Zones” within 400 meters of all schools. In these areas, only local restaurants that provide healthy options to children and students will be tolerated.

Micah White is a Contributing Editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He is writing a book on the future of activism. www.micahmwhite.com or micah (at) adbusters.org

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52 comments on the article “Ban Fast Food Near Schools”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 52

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An Earthling

despite the frequent naivite of Micah you can not argue that McDonalds and the like are a poison for a mammallian body if only with a time delay. And until they are banned from operating anywhere near planet Earth it's worth reminding of the danger. But I agree that editorial board is lazy when it comes to finding new/old talented writers for the blogging section.

An Earthling

despite the frequent naivite of Micah you can not argue that McDonalds and the like are a poison for a mammallian body if only with a time delay. And until they are banned from operating anywhere near planet Earth it's worth reminding of the danger. But I agree that editorial board is lazy when it comes to finding new/old talented writers for the blogging section.

Anonymous

i agree i feel as if the customers know what they are doing. If they know that there is a fast food place down the street then that's there choice if they are going there or not. It's not like the resturant is making the people come to there place. The people chose to go so i say keep it the way it is.

Anonymous

i agree i feel as if the customers know what they are doing. If they know that there is a fast food place down the street then that's there choice if they are going there or not. It's not like the resturant is making the people come to there place. The people chose to go so i say keep it the way it is.

Anonymous

What we should ban are video games. No, reading a book and playing a game are not the same thing. You can read for 40 minutes and use a bookmark plus all the cognitive functions being used when reading are different than those use when playing. But, c'mon gamers, can you really play for just 40 minutes and save? No, because playing video games is addicting. It's a passive leisure activity that demands a lot of your time and makes you want it and most gamers become obsessed geeks or as marketers like to say "become a hard core gamers". So, play soccer or even cricket you fat jerks.

Anonymous

What we should ban are video games. No, reading a book and playing a game are not the same thing. You can read for 40 minutes and use a bookmark plus all the cognitive functions being used when reading are different than those use when playing. But, c'mon gamers, can you really play for just 40 minutes and save? No, because playing video games is addicting. It's a passive leisure activity that demands a lot of your time and makes you want it and most gamers become obsessed geeks or as marketers like to say "become a hard core gamers". So, play soccer or even cricket you fat jerks.

Another Matt

I am fat because I read too much. I am incapable of using and bookmark and stopping after 40 minutes. I read as many gamers play WOW- for hours on end for days on end. My addiction grew to the point I spend upwards up $10,000 in library fines, tuition, and sales just to satiate my appetite for reading. Ask my friends, I’ll go with showering, sleep, and even eating for periods of time because I get so focused on reading. Maybe you can ban libraries and universities so I’ll be safe. Or maybe you’ll grow up and learn that just because you dislike something does not mean it is bad. Maybe, limey or roo rooter, you’ll even discover that recommending that “fat jerks” do something they’re familiar with is the most effective way to get them to do it.

Another Matt

I am fat because I read too much. I am incapable of using and bookmark and stopping after 40 minutes. I read as many gamers play WOW- for hours on end for days on end. My addiction grew to the point I spend upwards up $10,000 in library fines, tuition, and sales just to satiate my appetite for reading. Ask my friends, I’ll go with showering, sleep, and even eating for periods of time because I get so focused on reading. Maybe you can ban libraries and universities so I’ll be safe. Or maybe you’ll grow up and learn that just because you dislike something does not mean it is bad. Maybe, limey or roo rooter, you’ll even discover that recommending that “fat jerks” do something they’re familiar with is the most effective way to get them to do it.

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