Fast food regs could curb obesity, study finds

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Tougher government regulations on the fast food industry could help curb a global obesity epidemic, researchers have concluded.

A new study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO) links the explosion of the fast food industry to general increase in the body mass index (BMI) in wealthier countries.

The phenomenon is exacerbated in nations with fewer restrictions on unhealthy food, according to the findings.

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“In particular, they suggest that government regulations hindering the spread of fast food consumption might help to mitigate the obesity epidemic,” researchers Roberto De Vogli, Anne Kouvonen and David Gimeno wrote.

The findings are based on data involving fast food consumption and body mass indexes in 27 countries belonging to the international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Our study shows that countries adopting what are considered market-liberal policies experience faster increases in both fast food consumption and mean BMI,” according to the study, which appears in the February edition of the bulletin.

The publication is the official journal of the WHO, the public health branch of the United Nations.

Moves to increase regulations on unhealthy food have met with staunch opposition in the United States, such as when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to ban large sodas, which have been linked to obesity.

A state appeals court ultimately deemed the ban unconstitutional.

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act seeks to improve public health through new regulations requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on their menus. Vending machines will also be required to display calorie counts under the law.

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