Home Volume 2, Issue 1 Do Fast Food Restaurants Cluster Around High Schools? A Geospatial Analysis of Proximity of Fast Food Restaurants to High Schools and the Connection to Childhood Obesity Rates

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Do Fast Food Restaurants Cluster Around High Schools? A Geospatial Analysis of Proximity of Fast Food Restaurants to High Schools and the Connection to Childhood Obesity Rates

by Hilary Nixona and Lauren Doudb

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2011.021.007, pp. 181–194

 

Abstract

Nationwide, approximately 30% of children consume fast food on a typical day, and caloric intake from fast food has increased fivefold over the past three decades. Our analysis adds to a growing body of public health and planning research through a geospatial analysis of fast food restaurants in Santa Clara County, California. We selected 41 high schools, representing 97% of enrollment in the county, and examined proximity to fast food restaurants within 400 meters (437 yards) and 800 meters (875 yards) of the schools. Our results indicate that fast food restaurants are clustered near high schools with higher obesity rates. In addition, observation of student behavior suggests that many students patronize these establishments after school and often make poor nutritional choices, consuming from 30% to 75% of the daily recommended allowance of calories for teens in a single after-school snack. Since there appears to be a relationship, albeit complex, between the built environment and public health, there also is an opportunity to develop more effective planning policies and programs to encourage active behavior and healthy eating choices.

 

Keywords: built environment, children, ethnicity, fast food restaurants, geospatial analysis, obesity, planning, public health 

 

a Corresponding author: Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192-0185 USA; +1-408-924-5852; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b GIS Specialist, Insignia Environmental, Palo Alto, CA 94301 USA; +1-650-321-6787 x235; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 
 

Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.

 

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