Industry Criticizes Reports Suggestion That Fast-Food Bans Will Curb Obesity

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “Industry officials are assailing a recently published report recommending that local governments seeking to curb obesity should ban fast-food restaurants from operating near schools and in certain neighborhoods.”

“A report by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released earlier this week cited zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants near schools and playgrounds as one of several strategies communities might employ to halt the increase in childhood obesity. While not pursued extensively, the strategy of restricting development of fast-food operations for health reasons is gaining traction and has been addressed in municipalities like Los Angeles, New York and San Jose, Calif. The current report, “Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity,” also advocates enacting taxes on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks, and requiring calorie and other nutritional information on restaurant menus.

“‘The healthy choice must be the easy choice,’ said Eduardo J. Sanchez, vice president and chief medical officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, in a statement. ‘Although leisure activities and food consumption are personal matters, local environments influence the choices people make.'”

“The report says that over the past 35 years, the percentage of obese American adolescents has tripled, increasing from 5 percent to nearly 18 percent. Another recent report published by Health Affairs, a health policy journal, in July said obesity resulted in $147 billion in medical costs in 2008.”