HEART disease incidence is greater in areas where there are high numbers of fast food outlets, according to a study presented in a recent European Society of Cardiology (ESC) press release. The findings may support calls for policymakers to regulate the number of fast food outlets, particularly in urban areas.
Fast foods are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease because they contain high levels of salt, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and calories. To establish whether living in close proximity to a high number of outlets increases the risk of developing heart disease, the researchers followed 2,472,004 adults for 1 year starting from 1st January 2009. The participants had lived at the same address for at least 15 years and did not have cardiovascular disease at study initiation. The researchers counted the number of fast food outlets within 500 m, 1 km, and 3 km of each participant’s home that were reachable by road.
Higher Prevalence of Heart Disease
This analysis showed that cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease, was significantly more prevalent among residents in urban areas who were within 500 m of one or more outlets compared to none. In those who lived within 1 km of five or more outlets, the risk was around 17% higher compared to no fast food places. The association was weaker for rural areas and 3 km zones, as was the link between the proximity of fast food outlets and stroke and heart failure incidence.
“We know from previous research that the type of food available to purchase where people live influences their food choices. Our study suggests that city dwellers living within 1 km of fast food outlets eat more fast food, which increases their risk of coronary heart disease. In our next series of studies, we will further examine this assumption,” commented study author Dr Maartje Poelman, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
The findings suggest that policymakers should consider regulating the location and density of fast food outlets to help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. The authors added that improving the availability of fresh and healthy food is also a necessary step towards achieving this goal.
James Coker, Reporter
For the source and further information about the study, click here.