Foodservice Equipment Reports

L.A.’s QSR Ban Falls Flat In Cutting Obesity Rates

A 2008 ban on new QSRs in South Los Angeles not only failed to cut the obesity rate, according to a Rand Corp. report released in March, but the presence of new QSRs continued to grow.

The problem could have originated with the very specificity of the zoning rule, which applied only to stand-alone restaurants with limited menus, items prepared in advance or prepared quickly, no table orders and disposable containers, and didn’t target strip sites or mall stores. QSRs that shared space in strip malls, for example, were unrestricted. According to the Rand study, between 2008-12, large QSRs opened 17 new stores in the area; none of them was a stand-alone.

The Rand study shows that the percentage of people in South Los Angeles who were overweight or obese before the ban was 63%. Four years later, that figure stood at 75%.

Paradoxically, from 2007-12, while the percentage of people who were overweight or obese increased everywhere in Los Angeles, the increase was significantly greater in areas covered by the ban.

The law aimed to stem high rates of obesity and diabetes that afflict African American areas, specifically South Los Angeles. Although the regulation applies only to 32 square miles of the city, it covers an area with more than 700,000 people, which the researchers point out would make it one of the 20 biggest cities in the country.

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