How Far Do You Have to Go to Get a Cheeseburger Around Here? The Realities of an Environmental Design Approach to Curbing the Consumption of Fast-Food

Christina A. Lydon, Kerry D. Rohmeier, Sophia C. Yi, Mark A. Mattaini, W. Larry Williams


Recently, researchers have linked the availability and popularity of energy dense fast-foods to an increasingly obesogenic environment. Such availability has led to both over consumption and under nourishment, especially in lower income neighborhoods that fail to offer healthier alternatives. These “food deserts” play their part in both the increasing trend of obesity and the climbing costs associated with treating obesity-related disorders. In order to address this issue, food environments could be engineered by employing creative zoning in at-risk areas. Zoning allows municipalities to support developments that promote health, safety, and public welfare; in this context, zoning law could be utilized to support healthy, and more affordable, lifestyles. However, there is currently a lack of both empirical and public support for such an intervention on any scale. These issues could be addressed through the utilization of convenient pilots and the formation of relationships with target communities, culminating in the implementation of small-scale designs and, ultimately, large-scale intervention studies. In doing so, a foundation may be built upon which the development of a legitimate, environmental design approach to targeting obesity may be feasible.


fast-food, obesity, community-wide intervention, zoning, public health

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility