Oct 6, 2009
Published In: Health Affairs, v. 28, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 2009, p. w1088-w1097
A regulation banning new fast-food establishments for one year in Los Angeles, California, was passed unanimously by the city council in July 2008. It was motivated by health concerns and excessive obesity rates in South Los Angeles. However, it might not have had the impact that was intended. This paper reviews the empirical evidence for the regulation and whether it is likely to target the primary levers of obesity. We argue that the premises for the ban were questionable. For example, the density of fast-food chain restaurants per capita is actually higher in other parts of Los Angeles than in South LA. Other changes, such as menu calorie labeling, are likely to have a bigger impact on overweight and obesity.