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Mehta, Neil, and V.W. Chang. 2008. "Weight status and restaurant availability: A multilevel analysis." American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34(2): 127-33.
Empirical studies find that contextual factors such as food environment affect individual weight status over and above individual socioeconomic characteristics. An important change to this environment is the increasing availability of away-from-home eating establishments such as restaurants. This study analyzed the relationship between the restaurant environment and weight status across counties in the United States. Fast-food restaurant density and a higher ratio of fast-food to full-service restaurants were associated with higher individual-level weight status (BMI and the risk of being obese). In contrast, a higher density of full-service restaurants was associated with lower weight status. Future prospective studies are required to delineate causal pathways.
PMCID: PMC2440344. (Pub Med Central)