Member Login
Blog Categories
Follow Us

Fast-food and childhood obesity - how close is the nearest fast-food to your child's school?

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

This should be of no surprise to anyone. It actually seems rather obvious! But a recent study conducted by UC Berkeley found the following stats:

  • childhood obesity rates among 9th graders were increased by 5.2% when a fast food restaurant is within 1 block of a school
  • calories could increase from 30 to 100 calories a day depending on the proximity of the fast-food restaurant
  • the greatest effect on childhood obesity rates were most effected in the Hispanic and females population
The study looked at over 1000 schools in California over an eight year period.Some lawmakers are pushing for bills that will prohibit fast-food restaurants from being built within a mile of school. But I don't think this really addresses the key issue. Making it less accessible is certainly going to help but will it really solve the underlying problem?

Children have to be taught at a young age good eating habits. Eating fast food once in a while is okay. It is when this becomes the norm, that we have problems. So what are parents to do?

I remember when my kids were in middle school, it was a big treat for the kids to walk to McDonalds (about 1 block away) on a minimum day. The kids could hang out for a while, and of course, the food was cheap, so lunch money went a long way. But this was considered a once in while activity. It was not to be done on any regular manner. They weren't taken to a fast-food afterschool when they were in elementary school. And let's face it, once they hit high school, well they get pretty mobile and if they don't have good eating habits by then.....yikes, it is very hard to instill them at that age!

We need to be the ones to help our kids learn at a young age what is only "once in while foods". By helping kids know about healthy foods in a way that is meaningful and engaging to them. If we just say, "no" you can't eat that, then the mere fact that it is forbidden (and let's not forget they are seeing lots of fun advertising about it!) will probably make them want it more.So be a role model for good eating habits and when you do take them to a fast-food outing, help them learn to balance their eating choices with some healthy choices. Help them understand, why it is not healthy for the body to eat this type of food regularly.

Help them learn that if they do eat this type of food, one fast-food meal could be equal to an entire days worth of food. They will need to be extra active to burn off some of those extra calories.And finally, make eating together as a family the biggest treat and fun event of all.

Resource: Our printable healthy tips sheet: Eating out and healthy choices



1 Comment

Christine Westy
Monday, May 04, 2009 @ 10:35 AM

Flag This Item

Interesting health information, definitely something I can use. Thanks.

The photos displayed on this website were purchased legally from,, and All clipart displayed on this website is the exclusive property of