Originally published April 16 2015
LA's fast food ban fails to curb obesity; access to healthy, nutritious food is the solution
by Sandy J. Duncan
(NaturalNews) Some are calling the initiative a failure, and others say it's definitely a step in the right direction. Taking any action that will begin sending a better message about the food we eat is a good idea. The obesity rates in South Los Angeles grew by 12 percent over three years despite an innovative ban on new fast food restaurants.
Research conducted by the Rand Corporation found that obesity rates in South Los Angeles continued to rise after the law went into effect in 2008. "It had no meaningful effect," Rand senior economist Roland Sturm said. "There's no evidence that diets have improved more in South Los Angeles. Obesity and overweight rates have not fallen."
The results of the study were published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Initiative DetailsThis fast food ban affected a 32-square-mile are just south of Interstate 10, in an area that had high obesity rates and other health problems. There are about 700,000 people in the areas affected by the restriction in Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park and parts of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles. It seems that it would be impossible to directly correlate the action blocking food permits for fast food chains in the area with obesity in the population. It's important to note that the ban did not exclude new fast food stores to open in strip malls, so 17 new fast-food outlets were opened during the ban in strip malls or food courts. The South Los Angeles residents had no lack of fast food options regardless of whether or not new ones were being opened.
Better OptionsThe other problem is that over half of the new food permits were granted to gas stations/convenience markets that have nothing but soda and processed snacks. A good approach needs to include making healthier food choices readily accessible and affordable, not just taking away fast food locations. Those that are fast food junkies will drive a little farther to get to their favorite chain. Maurice Thrower owns Simply Delicious Burger, and his restaurant is located between two fast-food chains. The menu there includes healthier options including vegetarian and turkey burgers. "Once people stop to eat here, they come back," said Thrower, who opened Simply Delicious Burgers last year.
Education Key The researchers did find, however, that consumption of soft drinks decreased throughout the Los Angeles area since 2007. This obviously can't be simply the result of preventing more fast food chains from opening but could be that there has been a huge new market emerging offering soda alternatives like flavored waters and natural iced teas, and many consumers are finally recognizing the poisonous nature of soda.
Education is another key component to success in making any positive changes and helping people decide to eat healthier as opposed to just making it less convenient to find their favorite fast food chain. The decision to make better food choices, exercise and make better lifestyle choices in general will is necessary for obesity rates to decline. In a perfect world, people would be taught how simple and economical it is to grow some basic foods on your own regardless of where you live. Programs like Natural News' Food Rising Mini-Farm Grow Boxes provide an electricity-free way for individuals or groups to grow their own nutrient-dense food at little to no cost and could make a huge impact on obesity rates as well as provide food for those who need a cheap and easy way to provide food for their families.
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