Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Outdoor fast food ads could promote obesity

Date:
January 31, 2013
Source:
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Summary:
A new study suggests that the more outdoor advertisements promoting fast food and soft drinks there are in a given census tract, the higher the likelihood that the area's residents are overweight.

Past studies have suggested a relationship between neighborhood characteristics and obesity, as well as a connection between obesity and advertisements on television and in magazines.

Now, new research from UCLA has identified a possible link between outdoor food ads and a tendency to pack on pounds. The findings, researchers say, are not encouraging.

In a study published online in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Public Health, Dr. Lenard Lesser and his colleagues suggest that the more outdoor advertisements promoting fast food and soft drinks there are in a given census tract, the higher the likelihood that the area's residents are overweight.

"Obesity is a significant health problem, so we need to know the factors that contribute to the overeating of processed food," said Lesser, who conducted the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the UCLA Department of Family Medicine and UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health.

"Previous research has found that fast food ads are more prevalent in low-income, minority areas, and laboratory studies have shown that marketing gets people to eat more," said Lesser, now a research physician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute in California. "This is one of the first studies to suggest an association between outdoor advertising and obesity."

For the study, the researchers looked at two densely populated areas in Los Angeles and New Orleans, each with more than 2,000 people per square mile. They focused on more than 200 randomly selected census tracts from those two areas, which included a mixture of high- and low-income residents.

The team used data on outdoor food advertising in those areas gleaned from a previous study on ads and alcohol consumption (which had tracked all the outdoor ads). They then linked that information with telephone-survey data from the same study, in which nearly 2,600 people between the ages of 18 and 98 from those areas were asked health-related questions in addition to questions about their height, weight, self-reported body mass index (BMI) and soda consumption.

The researchers found a correlation: The higher the percentage of outdoor ads for food, the higher the odds of obesity in those areas.

"For instance, in a typical census tract with about 5,000 people, if 30 percent of the outdoor ads were devoted to food, we would expect to find an additional 100 to 150 people who are obese, compared with a census tract without any food ads," Lesser said.

Given that the study focused on only two areas, the authors urge further research to determine if the findings would be replicated in other areas. Because the study was cross-sectional, the researchers do not claim that the ads caused the obesity. They also note that self-reported information about weight is subject to recall bias, and people often under-report their true weight.

But this study suggests enough of a link between outdoor food advertising and "a modest, but clinically meaningful, increased likelihood of obesity" to warrant further examination, the researchers conclude.

"If the ... associations are confirmed by additional research, policy approaches may be important to reduce the amount of food advertising in urban areas," the researchers write, while noting that outright bans on such ads might be deemed unconstitutional. "Innovative strategies, such as warning labels, counter-advertising, or a tax on obesogenic advertising should be tested as possible public health interventions for reducing the prevalence of obesity."

Frederick J. Zimmerman of UCLA and Deborah A. Cohen of the RAND Corp. co-authored this study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The original article was written by Enrique Rivero. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lenard I Lesser, Frederick J Zimmerman, Deborah A Cohen. Outdoor advertising, obesity, and soda consumption: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 2013; 13 (1): 20 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-20

Cite This Page:

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). "Outdoor fast food ads could promote obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131083803.htm>.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). (2013, January 31). Outdoor fast food ads could promote obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131083803.htm
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). "Outdoor fast food ads could promote obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131083803.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins