Citing a recently released study that found a link between student obesity and schools’ proximity to fast food outlets, City Councilmember Eric Gioia has announced a plan to introduce legislation that would ban such restaurants from opening within 528 feet or one tenth of a mile of city schools.
“The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity” study, conducted by the University of California and Columbia University, found that a fast food establishment within one tenth of a mile of a school was associated with a 5.2 percent increase in the obesity rate among the three million 9th graders surveyed.
The study also found that proximity to fast food can increase a student’s caloric intake by 30 to 100 calories per school day. However, a fast food outlet .25 or .5 miles from a school had no impact on obesity rates, nor did the presence of non-fast food restaurants.
“Children are literally being poisoned by their food environments,” Gioia said in a statement, adding, “This study has confirmed what many of us have known for years: that proximity to fast food leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. Banning fast food around schools will have a measurable impact on students’ lives, and will help them grow up to be healthier, stronger adults.”
Gioia’s legislation, currently in drafting and announced along with National Action Against Obesity (NAAO) President MeMe Roth, would ban fast food restaurants from opening within one tenth of a mile of schools. The bill would exempt fast food establishments currently operating near city schools.
“It’s time to applaud and enact Councilman Gioia’s proposals to create School Safety Zones for New York City’s children,” Roth said in a statement, referring to fast food outlets as “junk food establishments.”
In additional to NAAO, various other national, state and city organizations including the Hunger Action Network of New York State, the Health Schools Network and the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, have vocalized their support for Gioia’s proposed legislation.