Yesterday the New York Daily News reported that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants to impose zoning bans on fast-food restaurants to supposedly “help” poor areas by blacklisting establishments that offer cheap food. If that sounds familiar, you might remember that the Los Angeles City Council tried something similar with “health zoning” in 2008 in South L.A. Just one problem: A RAND Corporation study last November found that its fast-food zoning ban was based on questionable premises. Wealthier areas of town had a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants than the poorer sections of Los Angeles, yet were not subject to any zoning ban. The actual data, the study says, disagreed with "media reports about an over-concentration of fast-food establishments" in South Los Angeles.
While the same may or may not be true in the NYC, there is certainly separate research showing that Quinn’s proposal may not have any effect on obesity. As we’re telling the media:
A 2009 Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) study undercuts the basis for Quinn’s draconian fast food zoning proposal. Looking at data for 60,000 children over 11 years, the study found that living in vicinity of fast-food restaurants had little to no effect on children's weight….Not surprisingly, the IUPUI study also found that living near certain recreational amenities, such as a soccer field or tennis court, lowers a child’s body mass index.
The single-minded belief of Quinn and other city officials that child obesity is only caused by ‘calories in’ completely disregards scientific research which has shown time and again that the solution for childhood obesity is much more complex than any single feel-good policy can solve.
If Quinn gets her way, who knows—maybe the Big Apple will find itself devoid of New York-style pizzerias.