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South LA Obesity Problem Blamed on Snacking

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The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a study released by the Santa Monica-based Rand Institute contradicts the notion that limiting the number of fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles will help curb obesity. In a widely-watched publicized move, last year City Coucilwoman Jan Perry led an initiative to ban the opening of new restaurants in South LA, a moratorium still in place through at least next March. Last year, Perry touted research that said that 40 percent of LA's fast-food restaurants are located in a 32 mile area in South LA, while the Rand study (which only counted larger fast-food restaurants) contradicts those figures. Additionally, the study says that basically there's not a huge amount of difference in the way that residents of South LA and other areas, including West LA, eat and exercise (although people in South LA are more likely to hit up food trucks). City Councilman Bernard Parks basically dismisses the study and says his district "desperately [needs] more sit-down restaurants, supermarkets and other sellers of fresh food and produce."

And people are bigger in South LA: More than one in four persons in the neighborhood is obese, compared to 18% of the residents of Los Angeles County who reside in wealthier neighborhoods. The Rand study chalks this up to the evils of snacking. "The Rand researchers attributed the greater likelihood of South Los Angeles residents to be obese to their consuming more snacks and sodas than people who lived in other areas. 'Snacks usually don't come from a restaurant,' [Rand's Roland] Sturm said. 'They typically come from stores and vending machines.'" One thing not addressed in the story is whether new businesses--instead of fast food chains---had moved into the area as an effect of the ban, as Perry had hoped they would.
[Pic via CSM]
· Ban on fast-food eateries is no fat cure, study says [LA Times]
· Trying to Make South LA a Little Slimmer [Curbed LA]