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Fast food restaurants

Los Angeles Considers Health Zoning to Limit Density of Fast Food Restaurants

Monday, December 31, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: fast food restaurants, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The city of Los Angeles is considering placing a two-year moratorium on any new fast food restaurants within South Los Angeles, in an effort to redress the disproportionate prevalence of such restaurants in this poor part of the city. The ordinance was proposed by Councilperson Jan Perry, who represents portions of South Los Angeles. She says that there are already too many fast food businesses in that area of the city, and that different types of food providers are needed.

According to a Los Angeles Times study, South Los Angeles has fewer restaurants and grocery stores per capita than other regions of the city, but the highest concentration of fast-food joints.

Forty-five percent of all restaurants in South Los Angeles are fast-food chains or have minimal seating; on the Westside, the number is 16 percent. In one quarter-mile section, the Los Angeles Times reported approximately 20 fast-food restaurants.

According Gwendolyn Flynn, policy director for the Community Health Councils, the prevalence of fast-food restaurants leads low-income families to become dependent on the cheap, unhealthy fare that such outlets provide.

Such conditions are part of the reason for South Los Angeles' high obesity rates -- 30 percent, compared with 20.9 percent for Los Angeles county in general, and 29 percent among children, compared with 23.3 percent for the county.

"The community has suffered for decades by an assumption that attracting business of any type is good, and it's not true," Perry said.

According to a 2005 study, South Los Angeles residents spend more than $400 million each year purchasing food and general merchandise in other regions, due in part to the dearth of grocery stores.

The moratorium will prevent the fast-food problem from worsening while the city comes up with a more long-range plan.

Mark Vallianatos, director of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College, praised Perry's proposed law. The ordinance, he says, "[brings] health policy and environmental policy together with land-use planning. I think that's smart, and it's the wave of the future."

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