Intended for healthcare professionals


Takeaway food and health

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 13 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1817
  1. Kathryn M Neckerman, senior research scientist
  1. 1Columbia Population Research Center, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
  1. kmn2{at}

Change the menu, not the venue

Takeaway or fast food has been a tempting target for public health advocates but a confounding one for researchers. It makes intuitive sense that people with ready access to takeaway food will eat more of it, yet results of research linking fast food access to diet or weight have been quite mixed.

In a linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.g1464), Burgoine and colleagues take a novel approach to describing food environment exposures. Unlike most research, which considers only the home neighbourhood, this study measured food outlets around the workplace and along commuting routes as well as near the home. The authors even adjusted the commute route “buffer” based on travel mode: because drivers might deviate farther from their route than other commuters, Burgoine and colleagues counted takeaway outlets within 500 m of the route for drivers and only 100 m for pedestrians and cyclists.

The study population was drawn from the Fenland Study, which is tracking a cohort of adults born in Cambridgeshire, UK, between 1950 and 1975. Consumption …

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