more neighborhood retail associated with lower obesity among new york city public high school students

Policies target fast food outlets to curb high adolescent obesity rates. We argue that researchers should examine the entire retail ecology of neighborhood retail, not just fast food outlets. We examine the association between the neighborhood retail environment and obesity using Fitnessgram data collected from 94,348 New York City public high school students. In generalized hierarchical linear models, we show the number of fast food restaurants predicts lower odds of obesity for adolescents (OR:0.972; CI:0.957--0.988. In a “placebo test” we find that banks – a measure of neighborhood retail ecology – also predict lower obesity (OR:0.979; CI:0.962-0.994). Retail disinvestment might lead to greater obesity; accordingly, public health research should study the influence of general retail disinvestment not just food-specific investment.

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