We investigated whether a higher number of fast-food outlets in an individual’s home neighbourhood is associated with increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and related risk factors, including obesity.
Three UK-based diabetes screening studies (one general population, two high-risk populations) conducted between 2004 and 2011. The primary outcome was screen-detected type 2 diabetes. Secondary outcomes were risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
In total 10 461 participants (mean age 59 years; 53 % male; 21 % non-White ethnicity).
There was a higher number of neighbourhood (500 m radius from home postcode) fast-food outlets among non-White ethnic groups (P<0·001) and in socially deprived areas (P<0·001). After adjustment (social deprivation, urban/rural, ethnicity, age, sex), more fast-food outlets was associated with significantly increased odds for diabetes (OR=1·02; 95 % CI 1·00, 1·04) and obesity (OR=1·02; 95 % CI 1·00, 1·03). This suggests that for every additional two outlets per neighbourhood, we would expect one additional diabetes case, assuming a causal relationship between the fast-food outlets and diabetes.
These results suggest that increased exposure to fast-food outlets is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, which has implications for diabetes prevention at a public health level and for those granting planning permission to new fast-food outlets.