Study probes the relationship between chain restaurant marketing and obesity

A recent study in JAMA Network Open aimed at figuring out whether any association between restaurant marketing and obesity exists among adults in America.

According to Sara Bleich of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and her fellow colleagues, their new study examined a longitudinal cohort of close to 30 million people within hundreds of counties in the U.S.

Based on their findings, it was concluded that while restaurant advertising spending was not linked to changes in body mass index (BMI) overall, there was an association between increased BMI and such spending only in low-income counties.

“Restaurants spend billions of dollars on marketing. However, little is known about the association between restaurant marketing and obesity risk in adults,” the co-authors wrote in their journal article.

“This cohort study used regression models with county fixed effects to examine associations between changes in per capita county-level restaurant advertising spending over time with changes in objectively measured BMI for US adult patients from 2013 to 2016.”

“The final analytic sample included 5 987 213 patients, and the analysis was conducted from March 2018 to November 2019. The results of this study suggest that restaurant advertising is associated with modest weight gain among adult patients in low-income counties,” the co-authors concluded.

Moreover, the research team noted that no public policy action has ever been established for limiting exposure to unhealthy restaurant advertising. Given the circumstances with these findings, the will to minimize advertising in low-income communities should become a subject of vigorous discussion in future studies.

“Efforts to decrease restaurant advertising in low-income communities should be intensified and rigorously evaluated to understand their potential for increasing health equity,” the research team implied in their findings.

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