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Snacks may be at the heart of obesity; convenience stores targeted in South L.A.

October 12, 2009 | 11:42 am
Links found by researchers between snack foods and obesity in poor communities are prompting new calls for more regulation of convenience stores in South Los Angeles.

The proposed new regulations are an outgrowth and expansion of last year's city restrictions on new fast-food restaurants in a 32-square-mile area of South Los Angeles. The area is home to about 500,000 residents, including those who live in West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park.

Motivated by new data focusing on convenience stores, civic activists and a City Council member favor49800811 limiting the development of such stores.

According to a study by the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica think tank, published last week in the research journal Health Affairs, calories from snacks were a likely culprit of higher obesity rates in South Los Angeles. The authors also found that South Los Angeles had a dramatically higher concentration of the type of small convenience store that sells caloric snacks than other sections of the city.

Separately, researchers looking at the shopping patterns of schoolchildren in urban Philadelphia found that more than half the 800 students they surveyed reported that they shopped at a corner store at least once a day, five times a week. Almost a third visited a store both before and after school.

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-- Jerry Hirsch


Photo: Studies show that candy and other snacks sold at convenience stores are a likely culprit in high obesity rates in poor communities. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images