No fast-food/overweight correlation

June 15, 2011 at 10:01 PM
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PORTLAND, Maine, June 15 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they found no correlation between overweight students and the presence of fast-food and sugary drinks near their schools.

Investigators from the University of Southern Maine surveyed 552 students at 11 Maine high schools to determine height, weight and calorie-dense food consumption of students in 9th through 12th grade.

David E. Harris and colleagues found more than half of the students consumed soda at least once a week and just about 10 percent consumed it daily, with a slightly smaller number consuming sports drinks in these time periods.

Nearly two-thirds had visited a burger and fries fast-food restaurant in the previous month, whereas more than half had visited a pizza parlor during the same period.

Of the 552 students surveyed, 25 percent were overweight or obese, but 73 percent were of normal weight and 1.8 percent were underweight.

"This study reports that the consumption of sweetened drinks and fast-food among Maine high-school students is high. One-half consumed sweetened soda weekly, and more than two-thirds consumed fast-food monthly and students has access these food items at a myriad of different locations," Harris says in a statement.

"However, the proximity or density of stores with unhealthful food near Maine high schools does not predict the risk of overweight for students at these schools."

The findings are scheduled to be published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

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