Eating Out : Where You Live Can Negatively Impact Your Weight Loss Efforts


As restaurant chains expand, so do some of the waistlines of Americans. Eating out can have negatively impact obesity and the ability to lose weight, but is there a difference between types of dining options?

Fast Food vs. Full Service Restaurants

In a new study published in the February issue of in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that the availability of more “fast food” restaurants compared to “full service” restaurants can contribute to higher levels of obesity.

Drawing on data from 5 years of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual telephone health survey of the adult population of the US and the 2002 U.S. Economic Census, the researchers examined the relationship between restaurant availability and weight status in 544 US counties. This resulted in over 700,000 BRFSS respondents, representative of approximately 75% of the 2002 US population.

The researchers found that a higher total restaurant density is significantly associated with lower weight status. However, once the restaurants are split into components: fast food and full service, a higher full-service restaurant density is significantly associated with lower weight status while, in contrast, a higher fast-food density is associated with higher weights.

Where You Live Can Impact Your Weight

“Individuals residing in areas with a high density of total and full-service restaurants exhibit lower weight status, possibly indicating that these areas possess a more advantageous, [relatively healthy eating] environment…Those who reside in areas possessing a higher relative number of fast-food to full-service restaurants have a higher weight status,” states Neil Mehta, MSc, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania and Virginia W. Chang, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Personally, living in a town where I can give directions based on donut shops and fast food joints, I can understand the problem.  Yeah, there are healthy eating choices at some of fast food restaurants, but sometimes I just want a burger and fries (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) Moderation, as this study demonstrates, is the key.  If you have a lot of quick temptations around you, it may take a little more conscious effort to strike a balance.  The important thing is to not to tell yourself to steer clear fast food, but just make sure you’re also taking advantage of other healthy eating options when you dine out.

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4 responses to “Eating Out : Where You Live Can Negatively Impact Your Weight Loss Efforts”

  1. Robert says:

    Yes, I got know that fast foods have more fat contents, and in full service restaurants serves with low fat contents and high proteins so my advice is to go for full service restaurants or to take food from home.

  2. Daniel Bergstrom says:

    Interesting post and blog.

    Kind regards,
    Daniel Bergstrom

  3. Heather says:

    I stumbled upon your blog and really enjoy it! I think that article is very interesting. While I love a good burger and fries (hell any fast food), it is frustrating to not have an abundance of real healthy options… “healthy” at chain restaurants isn’t always so “healthy.”

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Dave Nevard says:

    Western life is toxification personified.
    Its ironic to think that when people talk of macrobiotic diet this or organic alternative that.
    Really all it means is the old fashioned way of eating.
    Since the whole processed era has crept in and given everything a buzz word, the plain and simple diet of yesteryear seems to have gone for good.
    Ironic when its really such a straight forward approach to eating.

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