Proximity of fast food restaurants to schools: do neighborhood income and type of school matter?

Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):284-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.02.021. Epub 2008 Mar 10.


Objectives: To investigate the proximity of fast food restaurants to public schools and examine proximity by neighborhood income and school level (elementary, middle, or high school).

Methods: Geocoded school and restaurant databases from 2005 and 2003, respectively, were used to determine the percentage of schools with one or more fast food restaurants within 400 m and 800 m of all public schools in Los Angeles County, California. Single-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) models were run to examine fast food restaurant proximity to schools by median household income of the surrounding census tract and by school level. Two-factor ANOVA models were run to assess the additional influence of neighborhood level of commercialization.

Results: Overall, 23.3% and 64.8% of schools had one or more fast food restaurants located within 400 m and 800 m, respectively. Fast food restaurant proximity was greater for high schools than for middle and elementary schools, and was inversely related to neighborhood income for schools in the highest commercial areas. No association with income was observed in less commercial areas.

Conclusions: Fast food restaurants are located in close proximity to many schools in this large metropolitan area, especially high schools and schools located in low income highly commercial neighborhoods. Further research is needed to assess the relationship between fast food proximity and student dietary practices and obesity risk.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Restaurants*
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools*
  • Social Class
  • Students
  • United States / epidemiology