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NCCEH Student Project Award 2016 - E McDonald

The influence of fast-food restaurants surrounding homes and schools on measures of child and adolescent obesity: A Knowledge Synthesis

E McDonald
University of Waterloo - Master of Public Health

  • Rates of childhood overweight and obesity in Canada have increased substantially over the last 30 years
  • Overweight and obesity in childhood is associated with reduced social and emotional well-being and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes in adulthood
  • Interventions to combat the rising level of obesity in children have largely focussed on changing behavioural factors such as healthy eating and exercise at the individual level, with limited success
  • Research has shown that components of the built environment encourage increased energy consumption and sedentary behaviour
  • In recent years, fast-food restaurants have come under increased scrutiny for their role in contributing to the obesity epidemic
  • Evidence to date suggests that the density of fast-food restaurants surrounding children’ schools and homes may be associated with increased BMI, but is likely not associated with food consumption patterns or food purchasing behaviour
  • Currently, there is little evidence to support policy decisions that limit the number or proximity of fast-food restaurants surrounding neighbourhoods and schools
  • Additional, high quality longitudinal studies are needed to measure changes in food consumption patterns and food purchasing behaviour in children as their food environment changes over time