A study by researchers at UC Berkeley and Columbia indicates that student obesity may be linked with the proximity of fast food restaurants to schools. After tracking body-fat data from 9th graders over a period of 8 years, results show that “teens who attend classes within one-tenth of a mile of a fast-food outlet are more likely to be obese than peers whose campuses are located farther” from fast food options.

For teenagers, fast-food is often more attractive than cafeteria food and the cheapest option for lunch or an after-school snack. When it’s easy to get to during lunch period, the temptation is even greater, even if students are aware that’s it’s not good for them.

California, like many other states, has prohibited the sale of sugary sodas and junk food in schools and required fast-food joints to list calories on their menus. But, as this study indicates, “obesity is as much a factor of environment as it is a matter of choice” and the state is now considering zoning regulations that would prohibit fast-food joints being built near schools.

“Student obesity linked to proximity to fast-food outlets” [LA Times]