The association between fast-food outlet proximity and density and Body Mass Index: Findings from 147,027 Lifelines cohort study participants

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Unhealthy food environments may contribute to an elevated Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a chronic disease risk factor. We examined the association between residential fast-food outlet exposure, in terms of proximity and density, and BMI in the Dutch adult general population. Additionally, we investigated to what extent this association was modified by urbanisation level. In this cross-sectional study, we linked residential addresses of baseline adult Lifelines cohort participants (N = 147,027) to fast-food outlet locations using geo-coding. We computed residential fast-food outlet proximity, and density within 500 m(m), 1, 3, and 5 km(km). We used stratified (urban versus rural areas) multilevel linear regression models, adjusting for age, sex, partner status, education, employment, neighbourhood deprivation, and address density. The mean BMI of participants was 26.1 (SD 4.3) kg/m2. Participants had a mean (SD) age of 44.9 (13.0), 57.3% was female, and 67.0% lived in a rural area. Having two or more (urban areas) or five or more (rural areas) fast-food outlets within 1 km was associated with a higher BMI (B = 0.32, 95% confidence interval (CI):0.03,0.62; B = 0.23, 95% CI:0.10,0.36, respectively). Participants in urban and rural areas with a fast-food outlet within <250 m had a higher BMI (B = 0.30, 95% CI:0.03,0.57; B = 0.20, 95% CI:0.09,0.31, respectively). In rural areas, participants also had a higher BMI when having at least one fast-food outlet within 500 m (B = 0.10, 95% CI:0.02,0.18). In conclusion, fast-food outlet exposure within 1 km from the residential address was associated with BMI in urban and rural areas. Also, fast-food outlet exposure within 500 m was associated with BMI in rural areas, but not in urban areas. In the future, natural experiments should investigate changes in the fast-food environment over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106915
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date16-Dec-2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022

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