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Weight gain in mid-childhood and its relationship with the fast food environment

Pearce, Matthew; Bray, Issy; Horswell, Michael


Matthew Pearce

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Issy Bray
Associate Professor in Public Health (Epidemiology)


© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. All rights reserved. Background Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue. Understanding environmental factors and their contribution to weight gain is important if interventions are to be effective. Aims The purpose of this research was to assess the relationship between weight gain in children and accessibility of fast-food outlets. Methods A longitudinal sample of 1577 children was created using two time points from the National Child Measurement Programme in South Gloucestershire (2006/7 and 2012/13). A spatial analysis was conducted using a weighted accessibility score on the number of fast-food outlets within a 1-km network radius of each child's residence to quantify access to fast food. Results The mean accessibility score for all children was 0.73 (standard deviation: 1.14). Fast-food outlets were more prevalent in areas of deprivation. A moderate association was found between deprivation score and accessibilty score (r = 0.4, P < 0.01). Children who had greater access to fast-food outlets were more likely (odds ratio = 1.89, P = 0.04) to gain significant weight (>50 percentile points) compared to children who had no access to fast-food outlets. Conclusions This paper supports previous research that fast-food outlets are more prevalent in areas of deprivation and presents new evidence on fast-food outlets as a potential contributor towards weight gain in mid-childhood.


Pearce, M., Bray, I., & Horswell, M. (2018). Weight gain in mid-childhood and its relationship with the fast food environment. Journal of Public Health, 40(2), 237-244.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 10, 2017
Publication Date Jun 1, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 10, 2017
Journal Journal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Print ISSN 1741-3842
Electronic ISSN 1741-3850
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 2
Pages 237-244
Keywords childhood obesity, fast food, weight gain, national child measurement programme, public health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Public Health following peer review. The version of record [Pearce, M., Bray, I. and Horswell, M. (2017) Weight change in mid-childhood and its relationship with the fast food environment. Journal of Public Health, 40 (2). pp. 237-244. ISSN 1741-3842 ] is available online at:


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