It turns out that the three most important aspects of purchasing a new home, can also impact your weight!
This article in the NYTimes indicates that ninth graders whose schools are within a block of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese than students whose schools are a quarter of a mile or more away.
The study is from the national Bureau of Economic Research, and just wanted to see whether close geographic proximity to fast food plays a causal role in obesity.
To do this, they followed a large population of ninth grade kids for almost a decade. They were able to see the effect of the fast food restaurants by checking the kids in the years before and after a new fast food outlet opened nearby.
They controlled for income, education and race, and still found that obesity rates were 5% higher for the ninth graders whose schools were within one-tenth of a mile of a pizza, burger or other popular fast-food outlet. This was compared with students at schools farther away from the fast-food stores.
“I think we got as close to proving causation as any other study has, and probably as close as is feasible with the existing data,” said Enrico Moretti, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the paper’s authors.
The other factor here, however, is the mysterious X factor called ... the parent. My guess is that the degree of parental involvement at home, in the kitchen, around the family table, will also impact these numbers.
The authors did not mention these issues. I know they are hard to quantify scientifically, but they are also incredibly important in the development of healthy eating behaviors, and choices.