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 41 - 50 of 52

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paint

The answers are simple, and we all know what they are. They are deep inside of us, they can't be thought because they are not thoughts, they can't be written down or spoken because there are no words to describe them, but they are part of all of us... What is it about humans that makes us enjoy squabbling instead of just doing what needs to be done?.... Why must we pick a side? Is it to strengthen our sense of self? There is only one true solution, and it's the same solution to every problem on earth, but people can't be taught it, they have to grow to understand it, and we will,(hopefully) because we are doomed as a species if we do not.

paint

The answers are simple, and we all know what they are. They are deep inside of us, they can't be thought because they are not thoughts, they can't be written down or spoken because there are no words to describe them, but they are part of all of us... What is it about humans that makes us enjoy squabbling instead of just doing what needs to be done?.... Why must we pick a side? Is it to strengthen our sense of self? There is only one true solution, and it's the same solution to every problem on earth, but people can't be taught it, they have to grow to understand it, and we will,(hopefully) because we are doomed as a species if we do not.

Other Matt

"What is it about humans that makes us enjoy squabbling instead of just doing what needs to be done?…. " It's caused by the fact that despite your pronouncement that "The answers are simple, and we all know what they are. They are deep inside of us" there are multiple ideas about what to do, all of varying degrees of validity,

Other Matt

"What is it about humans that makes us enjoy squabbling instead of just doing what needs to be done?…. " It's caused by the fact that despite your pronouncement that "The answers are simple, and we all know what they are. They are deep inside of us" there are multiple ideas about what to do, all of varying degrees of validity,

Brad Richert

Yes, let us ban everything that leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. That way we won't have to think for ourselves. That way we can have just another empire where the elites can tell us what is good for us and what isn't. When Adbusters starts spouting this sewage we know any form of constructive anarchism is truly dead.

Brad Richert

Yes, let us ban everything that leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. That way we won't have to think for ourselves. That way we can have just another empire where the elites can tell us what is good for us and what isn't. When Adbusters starts spouting this sewage we know any form of constructive anarchism is truly dead.

Eddie Sullivan

Your reply is an example of a 'slippery slope' logical fallacy. The article is not calling for a ban on everything that leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. It is calling for more control over the lifestyle of schoolchildren, who are easily exploited (in this case by fast food outlets near their schools.) If you're an adult, and want to be fat and smoke- good luck to you. But it is one of the imperatives of being an adult that we hold up a model for citizenship and good health habits for children even if we do not follow them ourselves. Cleaning up the diets of children at least offers them the choice in adulthood of either following a healthy lifestyle or an unhealthy one. If all they have are unhealthy choices, they are robbed of one choice- the healthy one. Banning fast food restaurants in close proximity to schools and fast food style school lunches actually grants the growing school-age child *more* freedom in adulthood. There is no shortage of information available to schoolchildren about unhealthy lifestyles, at least we can give them a fighting chance to pursue a healthy lifestyle *if they want to* as adults. I did not need a McDonald's close to my high school as a child to know where one is as an adult, I was not robbed of any freedom. As it turns out, as an adult, I still have bad food habits I strive to clean up. But I actively can make health choices because *I know how to.* And it is 'elitist' of McDonald's and other fast food companies to not consider the wishes and health of the communities they serve. It is an elitist attitude to rape communities of billions in profits and their good health simultaneously while placing a strain on small independent business- the backbone of this country. It is not 'elitist' of any American to want to regulate this.

Eddie Sullivan

Your reply is an example of a 'slippery slope' logical fallacy. The article is not calling for a ban on everything that leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. It is calling for more control over the lifestyle of schoolchildren, who are easily exploited (in this case by fast food outlets near their schools.) If you're an adult, and want to be fat and smoke- good luck to you. But it is one of the imperatives of being an adult that we hold up a model for citizenship and good health habits for children even if we do not follow them ourselves. Cleaning up the diets of children at least offers them the choice in adulthood of either following a healthy lifestyle or an unhealthy one. If all they have are unhealthy choices, they are robbed of one choice- the healthy one. Banning fast food restaurants in close proximity to schools and fast food style school lunches actually grants the growing school-age child *more* freedom in adulthood. There is no shortage of information available to schoolchildren about unhealthy lifestyles, at least we can give them a fighting chance to pursue a healthy lifestyle *if they want to* as adults. I did not need a McDonald's close to my high school as a child to know where one is as an adult, I was not robbed of any freedom. As it turns out, as an adult, I still have bad food habits I strive to clean up. But I actively can make health choices because *I know how to.* And it is 'elitist' of McDonald's and other fast food companies to not consider the wishes and health of the communities they serve. It is an elitist attitude to rape communities of billions in profits and their good health simultaneously while placing a strain on small independent business- the backbone of this country. It is not 'elitist' of any American to want to regulate this.

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