Such confounding factors

Children who live near fast food outlets are more likely to gain weight compared with those living farther away, new research suggests.

And therefore, the cry will be, fast food outlets cause obesity.

The study also found a higher density of fast food outlets within poorer neighbourhoods.

Hmm, for there’s another thing we know, that obesity rates are higher among the poor than the rich. So our causal link could be entirely different – the poor are fatties, fast food is sold to fatties, thus the fast food shops congregating where the poor are.

Correlation and causality do indeed need to be teased out.

10 thoughts on “Such confounding factors”

  1. Children who live near fast food outlets are more likely to gain weight compared with those living farther away

    Because they have to walk further to get their burgers, right?

  2. The data probably shows that food banks are correlated with obesity (poverty being the real factor); but don’t expect to see that headline in the Guardian any time soon.

  3. Hmmm, lazy versus poor, which has the strongest effect? I’d love to know the obesity rates of Drive-Thru customers versus non Drive-Thru at the same restaurant. Car ownership should correlate with having a little wealth, walking doesn’t. So should we expect the lazy drivers or the poorer walkers to be the the most unhealthy. Can the G tell me and can I claim a grant from them?

  4. I used to sit on Hot Food Premises Licensing, and we did indeed see applications predominantly for sites in areas where there were people more likely to buy cheap processed stodge.

  5. There are quite a few fast food outlets near to the railway station in my town. In fact, they are quite common around many railway stations. Therefore Network Rail build train stations to be near fast food outlets.

  6. Planners build town centres in the same places as the homeless bums begging for food. Sack the planners, especially if they try to ‘regenerate’ the places.

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