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Fast-Food Zoning for Health: Lessons from Newspaper Coverage and Legislative Debates About Land-Use Policies in U.S. Communities, 2001-2013

2015 | Read the full brief.

In the face of rising obesity rates, public health advocates have suggested zoning and other land-use policies as a promising approach to foster healthy food environments, including land-use policies to restrict fast-food restaurants.

In this brief, the Public Health Advocacy Institute, Changelab Solutions and PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group identified land-use ordinances to restrict fast-food restaurants proposed around the country between 2001 and 2013 and analyzed news coverage and legislative documents to assess the public debates around them.

The analysis found a clear divide between the debates around land-use policies focused on improving nutrition environments and those focused on other concerns. Nutrition-focused land-use policies faced more opposition, including criticisms that framed the proposed measures as “nanny state” restrictions. 

Read the full brief to learn more (available online and for download).

This brief is based on: Nixon, L, Mejia P, Dorfman L, Cheyne A, Young S, Friedman LC, Gottlieb MA, and Wooten H. (2015). Fast-Food Fights: News Coverage of Local Efforts to Improve Food Environments Through Land-Use Regulations, 2000-2013. American Journal of Public Health.

This study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, through its Healthy Eating Research program.


Laura Nixon, Pamela Mejia, Andrew Cheyne, Sandra Young, Lissy C. Friedman, Mark Gottlieb, Heather Wooten, Lori Dorfman

Produced through PHI's:

Berkeley Media Studies Group