A ban on opening and expanding stand-along fast-food restaurants in low income neighborhoods of Los Angeles has failed to curb obesity, says a RAND Corp  study.  “This should not come as a surprise:  most food outlets in the area are small food stores or small restaurants with limited seating that are not affected by the policy,” said economist Roland Sturm, the lead author of the study.  About 700,000 people live in sections of Los Angeles affected by the policy, which was approved in 2008 with advocates calling it a “public health measure.”

Using responses from the California Health Interview Survey, researchers found “both obesity and being overweight increased in all areas from 2007 to 2012, with the increase being significantly greater in areas covered by the fast-food ordinance,” said RAND.  About 10 percent of food outlets in Los Angeles opened since the ordinance was approved.  “The findings show the ordnance has done little to re-shape the retail food landscape in the targeted neighborhoods,” RAND said.

The study, “Diet and obesity in Los Angeles County 2007–2012: Is there a measurable effect of the 2008 ‘Fast-Food Ban?'” was published online in the journal Social Science and Medicine and is available here.