Food Stores Near Schools Not Tied to Obesity in Students

Proximity of unhealthful food availability has no significant impact on the risk of obesity in Maine

MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of food stores with unhealthful food near high schools in Maine has no significant impact on the obesity risk of students, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

David E. Harris, Ph.D., from the University of Southern Maine in Portland, and colleagues assessed the correlation between food store locations near schools and the obesity risk for 552 students from 11 Maine high schools. Using mail surveys, the height, weight, and calorie-dense food consumption of students was determined. The driving distance to food stores closest to or within 1.24 miles of schools was calculated. The effect of the density of food stores and their proximity to schools on student body mass index was measured.

The investigators found that 10 schools had one or more stores within 0.62 miles selling soda, while eight schools had one or more fast-food restaurants within that distance. Proximity and density of food stores near schools was not significantly correlated with the student obesity risk. Sugar-sweetened beverages were available to the students at many locations, including in schools.

"The proximity or density of stores with unhealthful food near Maine high schools does not predict the risk of overweight for students at these schools," the authors write.

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