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Study: Living near fast food restaurants increases chance of having a stroke

Written By Administrator On February 23, 2009

According to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan, people who live in an area with a lot of fast food restaurants have a greater chance of having a stroke than those who live in Whopper deprived areas.

(Please read the previous sentence and all the ones to follow with a healthy dose of skepticism.)

The study, led by Dr. Lewis B. Morgenstern, focused on Nueces County, Texas, where we’re to believe people are dropping like flies still clutching Big Macs in their hands.

Using US Census Bureau demographic and socioeconomic data, Morgenstern and his team split the city into 64 neighborhoods and counted the fast-food restaurants in each neighborhood.
The researchers found that areas with the highest number of fast fooders were associated with a 13% elevated risk of ischemic stroke. Also, the relative risk of the deadly stroke rose by one percent for each additional fast-food restaurant in a neighborhood.

I don’t doubt those numbers. But here’s what the study was unable to conclude:

“The data showed a true association or definite relationship, between unhealthy food and stroke. What we don’t know is whether fast food actually increased the risk because of its contents, or whether fast-food restaurants are a marker of unhealthy neighborhoods,” Morgenstern said.

In other words, stories that you see on the Web — like this one! — that say if you live near a bunch of fast food restaurants you’re going to have a stroke should be taken with a grain of salt. Well, maybe that isn’t the best way to put it since high sodium levels in fast food is one of the great threats to one’s health.

And reserachers cautioned that the study did not — and could not — prove an any relationship between stroke episodes and the amount of fast food consumed, nor did it address what role exercise — or the lack of it — played in the increased level of strokes.

Bottom line: just because you live near a bunch of fast food restaurants doesn’t mean you have to eat at them all the time. And, if you do count McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s among your neighbors, you don’t have to put the house on the market to avoid a stroke.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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