THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Increased access to fast food restaurants is associated with higher calorie intake among black Americans in the southeastern United States, a new study found.

Researchers analyzed data from 4,740 participants in the African American Jackson Heart Study. Researchers didn't find any consistent associations between the availability of fast food restaurants and body-mass index (BMI) or waist circumference.

However, the study authors did find that living within 5 miles of fast food restaurants was associated with higher calorie intake among women and men younger than age 55, even after adjustments were made for individual socioeconomic status. Specifically, men consumed 138 more calories and women consumed 58 more calories.

"Our results suggested that, especially among younger adults who are more likely to consume fast food, the availability of fast food restaurants around their homes is associated with energy intake," the researchers wrote.

"Given the importance of energy intake to weight and associated disorders, the role of environmental factors such as fast food restaurant availability deserves additional scrutiny," they added.

The study appears online May 5 in the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines how to make healthier food choices.