-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Hispanic teens who
go to school near fast-food restaurants are more likely to be
overweight and to not benefit as much from exercise as white or
Asian students, researchers have found.
Because teens often make independent food choices before, during
and after school when they are away from their parents, the
investigators suggested that a better understanding of the local
fast-food marketing strategies and their outcomes based on income,
ethnicity and location is needed.
"Our study demonstrates that fast food near schools is an environmental influence that has magnified effects on some minority children at lower-income urban schools," study co-author Brennan Davis, an assistant professor of marketing at Baylor University, said in a university news release.
As mobile technology improves the ability of marketers to reach
"ideal" customers based on their lifestyle and location, "fast-food
promotions will likely target those adolescents nearest to
fast-food outlets and who are at greatest risk for obesity.
Voluntary industry actions, or policies that support healthier food
near schools, can contribute to healthier school food
environments," Davis added.
For all students, having a fast-food restaurant one mile closer
to school almost entirely offsets the benefits of exercising one
day each week. For black and Hispanic students in lower-income
urban neighborhoods, however, the study found that having a
fast-food restaurant one mile closer to school may negate the
benefits of up to three days of exercise each week.
"The findings imply that it is important to examine the behaviors and contexts associated with low-income and ethnic minority status in urban areas," study co-author Sonya Grier, associate professor of marketing at American University, noted in the release. "These populations not only are the fastest growing but also have the highest rates of obesity, and research is relatively limited."
About one-third of the students attended school in a large
suburban area, and 55 percent went to school within a half-mile of
a fast-food restaurant, according to the report published in the
current issue of the
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
Of the students involved in the study, 21 percent were aged 12
or younger, 11 percent were 13 years old, 24 percent were 14 years
old, 12 percent were 15 years old, 23 percent were 16 years old,
and 9 percent were 17 or older. Just over half of the students were
girls. The researchers also noted that 40 percent where white and
13 percent were Asian, 7 percent were black, 38 percent were
Hispanic, and 18 percent were another ethnicity. All of the
students lived in California.
While the study found an association between having a fast-food
outlet near school and negative effects on weight and exercise
among teens, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
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