Cities Crack Down On Fast-Food Drive-Thrus (Sorry, Dunkin)

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‘Food police’ say drive-thru fast foot contributes to obesity, violating zoning 

Pulling into the drive-through lane to order a burger and fries is getting harder in some U.S. cities.

The Salt – In August, Minneapolis became the latest city to pass an ordinance banning the construction of new drive-through windows.

Similar legislation restricting or banning the ubiquitous windows has also passed in Creve Coeur, Mo.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Fair Haven, N.J.

Most bans focus on curbing emissions, reducing litter, improving pedestrian safety and enhancing walkability.

In Minneapolis, City Council President Lisa notes that the ordinance fits in with Minneapolis 2040, a plan for growth and development that includes achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

But such legislation is also sometimes promoted as an opportunity to create healthier food environments and curb obesity. “Picky Eaters” Coming Down With Ancient Disease

In a study analyzing drive-through bans in 27 Canadian cities, researchers noted, “health promotion and chronic disease prevention are public health gains from the implementation of fast food drive-through service bylaws.”

“Zoning could help protect residents from high-calorie, high-fat foods …”

In South Los Angeles, where an estimated 45% of the 900 restaurants in the area served fast food and almost 37% of adults and 30% of children were obese, a 2008 regulation that prohibited opening or expanding stand-alone fast food restaurants and drive-through windows was aimed at curbing that health epidemic.

In the report, “The City Planner’s Guide to the Obesity Epidemic: Zoning and Fast Food,” researchers support the idea that zoning could help protect residents from high-calorie, high-fat foods, calling drive-through bans “a logical and compelling justification for the regulation of fast food outlets by zoning laws to protect the public’s health from the devastating obesity epidemic.”

Roland Sturm, senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research firm, calls the notion ridiculous. Proponents of the bans often tout potential health benefits, he explains, but there is no evidence to back up those claims.

Obesity rates went up, not down, after South Los Angeles banned new stand-alone fast food restaurants and drive-through windows … Read more. 

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