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    Survey Results: In The Zone

    55855281-fastfoods71 percent of readers who cast their vote in the latest Small Bites survey support zoning laws that regulate fast food chains’ proximity to schools.

    As do I!

    Studies are beginning to highlight the negative health consequences that stem from a lack of zoning laws.  One recent study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, found that students who attend schools located within a one tenth mile radius of a fast food establishment are 5.2 percent more likely to be obese than students who attend schools located further away from these restaurants.

    A 2004 study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition concluded that adolescents who consume fast food on a daily basis eat an average of 187 more calories a day than those who eat fast food less frequently.  These additional 187 calories can amount to weight gain nearing 19 pounds in just one year.

    Additionally, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study concluded that consumers who eat fast food two or more times a week had a one-hundred percent increase in their insulin resistance compared to consumers who ate at fast food establishments less than once a week.

    In large US cities, the proximity of fast food establishments to schools is undeniable.  Eighty percent of Chicago’s elementary and high schools have at least one fast food restaurant within a half mile, and 18 schools in New York’s East Harlem are located within 500 feet of a fast food restaurant.

    I do not consider these zoning laws a “solution to a problem” as much as a necessary step to solve the REAL issue — improving the moribund National School Lunch Program.

    How can we expect healthier school lunch policies — and, no, that does not mean steamed peas and paltry salad bars with wilted lettuce — to be effective if students, particularly those allowed off-campus during lunch hours, have fast food available to them a few blocks away?


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