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NewsBites June 2015 Issue

Fast-Food Ban Made Little Difference

Banning new fast-food restaurants in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles failed to improve residents’ eating habits or keep them from getting fatter, according to new research published in Social Science & Medicine. The ban, which also restricted remodeling of fast-food eateries, was enacted in 2008 in hopes of combating obesity and improving health outcomes among South Los Angeles’ 700,000 residents. But the only subsequent improvement in consumption patterns—a drop in soft-drink intake—was seen as well in areas without the ban. Overweight and obesity rates actually increased more in the regulated neighborhoods, and consumption of fast food rose regardless of the rules. The chief effect of the regulations was to shift retail developments from fast-food franchises to small food and convenience stores. While the ban may have “symbolic value,” researchers concluded, “it has had no measurable impact on improving diets or reducing obesity.”

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