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Availability of fast food along workers’ route to work linked to extra pounds: study

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Tempe, AZ — The number of fast-food restaurants located along your commute may factor into your body mass index, a researcher from Arizona State University says.

Adriana Dornelles, a clinical assistant professor in the ASU Department of Economics, studied the commute routes of 710 elementary school employees in New Orleans. Using three data sources, she looked at the types of food establishments participants passed within about two-thirds of a mile of their shortest route (by distance) to work.

Commuters who passed a greater number of fast-food restaurants were found to have higher BMIs. The same was found among participants who had more supermarkets, grocery stores and fast-food restaurants near their homes.

Workers who lived near more full-service restaurants, meanwhile, had lower BMIs. Dornelles noted that no connection was found between BMI and the type of food establishments near workplaces.

 

The results highlight “the need to consider multiple environmental factors when examining contributors to BMI,” Dornelles said in an Aug. 7 press release, adding that a more comprehensive understanding of these factors could drive methods of promoting better health outcomes.

“The most important finding of the study was to establish a significant relationship between BMI and multiple food environments,” Dornelles said. “In our daily lives, we are exposed to several healthy and unhealthy food choices, which has an impact on BMI. The availability and variety of fast-food restaurants along our commute create endless opportunities for a quick, cheap and unhealthy meal, which results, on average, in higher body mass index.”

The study was published online Aug. 7 in the journal PLOS ONE.

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