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It’s the busiest people, not the poorest, who eat the most fast food

F. D. Richards
A McDonald's located in Dundee, MI.

Fast food is not good for us. That's not exactly a secret.

Nutritionists point to all that fat and salt in fast food as one of the main causes of the growing obesity rate in this county, and elsewhere around the world.

There's a commonly held belief that poor people eat more fast food than any other group.

University of Michigan-Dearborn Economics Professor Patricia Smith decided to test that belief in a study on fast food consumption. She found that the poor don’t actually eat more fast food than anyone else. It is those who are busiest, often the middle class, that do.

“When we looked at older studies we found a bunch of mixed results, it wasn’t clearly established,” Smith said. “So we decided to get new data, and some more extensive socioeconomic data, to test this hypothesis.”

In 2008, Los Angeles passed a moratorium on the number of fast food restaurants in lower income neighborhoods in the south central part of the city.

According to Smith, the study that examined this area of Los Angeles showed this type of legislation didn’t work. The obesity rate continued to rise.

“If we are going to have legislation, maybe we ought to have the facts,” Smith said.

Listen above for the full conversation and learn about food deserts, health gradients, and which kind of public policy is actually making an impact on obesity rates.  

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