Tell me where you live and I shall predict your waistline

The city in which you live might actually have an influence on the size of your waistline

You might be surprised to learn that the city in which you live might actually have an influence on the size of your waistline.

Researchers from the University of Alberta have put together an obesity map of Canada. Their goal was to explore the relationship between access to fast-food restaurants and the obesity phenomenon. Consequently, they combined the obesity figures of various cities across the country with the density of the most popular chains of fast-food restaurants.

They noted a strong enough link between the number of fast-food restaurants and the level of obesity. In cities that had the highest number of obese citizens, the large fast-food chains had the greatest number of restaurants per capita.

The regions with the highest number of fast-food restaurants, that is approximately 3.5 restaurants for every 10,000 citizens, tended to be located in the eastern part of the country. It is also in the Atlantic Provinces that many of the highest levels of obesity in the country are observed. For example, it is estimated that a third of the population of the city of St.John’s, Newfoundland, is considered obese.

On the other end of the scale, Vancouver and Montreal were the cities that had the lowest density of fast-food restaurants, that is to say less than 2 restaurants for every 10,000 citizens. Both of these agglomerations also had a lower number of obese citizens.

These observations do not actually demonstrate a link of cause-and-effect between the two elements. Rather, they simply demonstrate that there likely is a correlation between the two. But is it easy access to fast-food restaurants that incites people to eat more fast food, or do these chains strategically set up restaurants in areas where people tend to be heavier? Obesity is a very complex phenomenon. Every composite, including the socioeconomic status of citizens and the environment where they live, warrants further investigation.

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