Stroke Rates Higher In Neighborhoods Full of Fast Food Restaurants
Research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2009 suggests stroke incidence is higher in neighborhoods full of fast food restaurants.
The findings have lead researchers to recommend stroke prevention programs that target residents who live in areas where fast food restaurants are highly concentrated
According to an American Heart Association news release, "The association suggested that the risk of stroke in a neighborhood increased by 1 percent for every fast-food restaurant."
Dr. Lewis B. Morgenstern at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor analyzed the number of strokes around Corpus Christi, Texas that included 64 census tracts in Nueces County. The results showed that living around fast food restaurants increased relative stroke risk by thirteen percent.
The scientists are quick to point out the association between higher strokes in neighborhoods with many fast food restaurants does not establish cause.
Dr. Morgenstern says, "The data show a true association. 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. We need to consider targeting communities that have a lot of fast-food restaurants as places where we can improve health."
The report is the result of information gleaned about strokes that occurred between January 1, 2000 through June 2003, and included 1,247 individuals who suffered ischemic stroke.
The findings show a definite association between stroke and fast food restaurants, but the researches still have many questions. "Is it direct consumption of fast food? Is it the lack of more healthy options? Is there something completely different in these neighborhoods that is associated with poor health?"
Previous studies have implicated fast food restaurant fare in promoting heart disease. The result has been healthier food choices from some fast food chains.
The study suggests that more information is needed to figure out exactly why strokes are higher in neighborhoods highly concentrated with fast food restaurants.