London: There is no correlation between obesity and how close you live to fast food restaurants or gyms as previous studies have indicated that these factors may be important in adult obesity, say researchers.
According to the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, the areas where we live are known to be important for our health. For example, obesity is more prevalent in deprived neighbourhoods.
Deprived neighbourhoods are typically defined by low socio-economic levels, e.g., low average income and high unemployment rates, the researchers said.
The reason why obesity is more prevalent in such neighbourhoods have been a topic of interest among both researchers and policymakers for a long time, and commercial facilities, like fast food outlets and physical activity facilities, have attracted much research attention and debate.
"However, our large-scale study in Sweden, using longitudinal national registry data of more than 1.5 million adults, did not find a statistically significant association between these two types of facilities and obesity", explained Kenta Okuyama from the Lund University in Sweden.
The researchers said that it is unlikely that the availability of fast food outlets or lack of gyms is causes of obesity in Swedish adults. Although reducing fast food outlets or introducing physical activity facilities might, in theory, promote healthy eating and exercise, it may not be very effective in all countries and regions.
"Because the contexts vary by its culture and lifestyle that may affect how often people utilize these facilities in their daily lives", Okuyama said. During the findings, the researchers did show a correlation between neighbourhood deprivation and obesity.
"The next goal is to investigate further what other factors can possibly impact the risk of obesity in Sweden", Okuyama concluded.