Children living near fast food outlets more likely to gain weight, a new study finds.

The Guardian has reported that researchers from the University of the West of England traced the weight of more than 1,500 state primary school pupils aged four to 11. The study found children living closer to fast food outlets were more likely to gain a significant amount of weight between the first and last year of primary school.  

The study, which will be published in the Journal of Public Health, claims it is the first to show a link between accessibility to fast food outlets and weight gain over time.

Rob Percival, Senior Policy Officer at Food for Life says:

This study demonstrates that when it comes to food, disadvantage perpetuates disadvantage. We’ve known for a long time that families living in more deprived areas are exposed to a greater number of junk food outlets, this study has now demonstrated that these toxic food environments are having a direct impact on child health. The most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese compared to the least deprived. These inequalities track through into adulthood, affecting life changes and wellbeing – the further proliferation of junk food is quite simply unfair and unacceptable. The Government must now take action and strengthen local authority powers to refuse planning to junk food outlets, particularly in areas where they are already over-prevalent, as well as in proximity to schools, parks and playgrounds.”

Evidence points towards the Food for Life programme’s potential to contribute to helping ‘close the gap’ for disadvantaged children in terms of their health and academic attainment. Read the full Food for Life impact report here.