There's an assumption in food-policy circles that obesity rates are high among the poor because they eat so much fast food. It's an assumption that led the LA City Council to ban the construction of new fast-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods in 2008.
But according to a new study from UC Davis, the links between fast food, poverty, and obesity aren't so direct. The study found that people in the lowest income groups eat less fast food than lower-middle and middle-class households. In fact, the households who eat the most fast food have an average income of $60,000 a year.
The UC Davis study just looked at fast food — not access to fresh produce, exercise, and time to cook; many other studies have shown that obesity is connected to all those factors, and low-income people lack access to all of them. But the architects of bans on McDonald's in poor neighborhoods may want to think their nanny-state approach to zoning.