Vancouver has low ratio of fast-food joints and lowest obesity rate
Vancouverites might have to venture further afield than most people to satisfy cravings for deep-fried food, but according to a new study our waistlines are better off for it.
Sean Cash, a professor in rural economy at the University of Alberta, created a map that links the number of fast food restaurants in a city and its obesity rate.
"We expected there to be a relationship but we were surprised at how strong the relationship is," said Cash, who combined obesity figures with the density of the 10 most popular fast-food restaurants.
Vancouver has the country’s lowest obesity rate, at 11.7 per cent, and the fourth-lowest ratio of fast food restaurants, at 2.3 per 10,000 people.
Canada’s most obese city is St. John’s, Nfld., where more than 36 per cent of people are obese. It also has the highest percentage of fast food restaurants, at 4.11 per 10,000 people. This was also true for Canada’s second-most obese and fast-food-dense city, Saint John, N.B.
But Cash warned that correlation is not necessarily causation, and that fast food restaurants might be opening in communities where people are already heavy and they know the restaurants will be popular.
Diane Finegood, director of Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute for Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, said the study merely suggests that one of the contributing factors to obesity could be the easier availability of less nutritious food.
Finegood said that socio-economic factors must also be considered, adding that less affluent communities tend to have a high prevalence of fast food restaurants because the food is cheap.
These communities often sprawl and residents are less active. Their lifestyle, and consequently their health, is therefore dictated by their environment.