(RxWiki News) Keeping kids from eating junk food can be difficult at times. It’s even more difficult these days with all the fast food restaurants popping up everywhere.
A new study analyzes environments where teenagers live and go to school to determine the effects these environments have on their health. If teens are eating more junk food, then their health is at risk because eating junk food can lead to obesity or diabetes.
"Communities need less fast foods and more grocery stores."
Lead author Susan Babey, Ph.D., senior research scientist at the University of California in Los Angeles for Health Policy Research, found that teens are more likely to eat fast food and drink soda everyday if they are surrounded by fast food restaurants, convenient stores, liquor stores, dollar stores and pharmacies.
If you have fast food or convenient stores on every block, then you are more likely to eat at those places – you are what you eat and you are where you live, Dr. Babey says.
The study finds that almost 75 percent of all California teenagers’ homes and schools are surrounded by unhealthy food outlets. In fact, there are seven times more junk food outlets near California teens' homes and schools than healthier food outlets.
It’s no wonder teens are eating unhealthier, says Dr. Babey.
The researchers found that teens that are surrounded by unhealthy outlets are 17 percent more likely to drink soda daily and 18 percent more likely to eat unhealthy twice a week.
Liquor stores and convenient stores are more accessible to teenagers than grocery stores, farmers markets or produce vendors. We need better policy options to provide healthier food outlets around schools and homes, says Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of the California Endowment, the organization that funded this study.
Too many counties are being affected by this imbalance between healthy and non-healthy food outlets. If we do not fix this problem, this could be the first generation that doesn’t outlive their parents, Dr. Ross adds.