Bodegas put school kids at obesity-risk

Sept. 24, 2010 at 8:57 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- No matter how healthy the food may be in school New York City school children have easy access to junk food close to their school, researchers say.

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health researchers find 92.9 percent of students had a bodega -- a small grocery store that typically carried fewer healthy food options than larger grocery stores --within 500 yards of their school.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, finds 70.6 percent of school children had a pizzeria nearby, 48.9 percent were similarly close to a convenience store, 43.2 percent were less than 500 yards from a national chain fast-food restaurant, such as McDonald's or Burger King, and 33.9 percent were that close to a local fast-food chain restaurant.

"The data confirm that nearly all New York City public school students have access to inexpensive, energy-dense foods within a 5-minute walk of New York City's public schools," senior author Andrew Rundle says in a statement.

Racial/ethnic minority and low-income students were more likely to attend schools with unhealthy food outlets nearby -- with bodegas being the most common source of unhealthy food, the study says.

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