Advocacy groups have suggested a strong link between childhood obesity and the proximity of fast-food restaurants or the lack of supermarkets stocked with fresh food. But the new study by a Santa Monica-based Rand Corp. think tank found little support for that connection.
Instead, it found that young children who live in communities where fruits and vegetables are expensive are more likely to gain excessive amounts of weight than kids who live in areas where produce costs less. That connection was stronger than the proximity of fast-food restaurants, the study concluded.
The study examined the weight gain of 6,918 children of varying socio-economic backgrounds from 59 U.S. metropolitan areas as they advanced from kindergarten to third grade. Researchers compared the weight gain figures with the price of different types of foods and the number of food outlets in the area.