More fast food restaurants around schools cause children to gain weight

The supply of junk food around Flemish schools has increased in recent years and has led to an increase in the number of children. This is evident from a large-scale study conducted by the Institute of Health Sciensano commissioned by the Agency for Health and Welfare.

The researchers mapped the food environment of all Flemish schools between 2008 and 2020. What does it look like? That food environment has become a lot unhealthy in ten years. The range of shops has remained the same, but traditional businesses like fruit and vegetable stores and bakeries have given way to fast food chains and stores of unhealthy scale, just think of the store at a gas station. For example, currently in a primary school in Flanders there are 3.8 convenience stores and 6.3 fast food restaurants within a distance of one kilometer. For secondary schools, these numbers are even higher, with 7.6 convenience stores and 12.7 fast food restaurants within a kilometer, respectively.

Research shows a clear link between the presence of fast food restaurants and the average body mass index (BMI) of schoolchildren up to 12 years old. “The more unhealthy businesses are in the area, the higher the average BMI and the higher the proportion of children who are overweight,” says researcher Stefanie Vandevijvere.

Concretely, for each additional fast food, delivery or takeaway delivery within a 500-meter walking distance of the school entrance, the average BMI of students aged 6-12 years increased by 0.057 kg/m2 per year. 2010-2011 and by 0.059 kg / m 2 in the year 2010-2011. The year 2015-2016. Young children, in particular, appear to be susceptible to an unhealthy food environment.

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“Our study shows that a high concentration of unhealthy food around schools negatively affects the weight status of our young people,” says Sciensano. The study demonstrates the importance of a healthy food environment. “It takes more than just campaigning to promote healthy food, politics is necessary,” says researcher Stefanie Vandevijvere. Point out. In London, for example, there is a ban on fast food around schools. South Korea prohibits the sale of unhealthy foods within a 200-meter radius around schools. According to the researcher, Flanders should also consider such interventions. However, a legal framework must first be established for this.

The researchers mapped the food environment of all Flemish schools between 2008 and 2020. What does it look like? That food environment has become a lot unhealthy in ten years. The range of shops has remained the same, but traditional businesses like fruit and vegetable stores and bakeries have given way to fast food chains and stores of unhealthy scale, just think of the store at a gas station. For example, currently in a primary school in Flanders there are 3.8 convenience stores and 6.3 fast food restaurants within a distance of one kilometer. For high schools, these numbers are even higher, with 7.6 convenience stores and 12.7 fast food restaurants within a kilometer, respectively. The study shows a clear association between the presence of fast food restaurants and the average body mass index (BMI) of schoolchildren up to age 12. “The more unhealthy businesses are in the area, the higher the average BMI and the higher the proportion of children who are overweight,” says researcher Stefanie Vandevijvere. Concretely, for each additional fast food, delivery or takeaway delivery within a 500-meter walking distance of the school entrance, the average BMI of students aged 6-12 years increased by 0.057 kg/m2 per year. 2010-2011 and by 0.059 kg / m 2 in the year 2010-2011. The year 2015-2016. Young children, in particular, appear to be susceptible to an unhealthy food environment. “Our study shows that a high concentration of unhealthy food around schools negatively affects the weight status of our young people,” says Sciensano. The study demonstrates the importance of a healthy food environment. “It takes more than just campaigning to promote healthy food, politics is necessary,” says researcher Stefanie Vandevijvere. Point out. In London, for example, there is a ban on fast food around schools. South Korea prohibits the sale of unhealthy foods within a 200-meter radius around schools. According to the researcher, Flanders should also consider such interventions. However, a legal framework must first be established for this.

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Megan Vasquez

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