We know that corporations go where their market is. Whole Foods sets up shop in wealthy, progressive counties while smaller companies like Monsanto market to rural farmers. What about fast food companies? The claims have been that since there are obese people near places where high densities of restaurants exist, the restaurants must cause the obesity. Less considered is that people might move to where more food choices are and where those are dense, such as in cities, people tend to be more educated.

A new paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds the opposite of what weak observational claims in corporate media say; instead, higher densities of fast food and full service restaurants were associated with lower levels of obesity, at least in America. Two scholars looked at data collected in 2012 by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and then compared it to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service data on fast-food and full-service restaurant density. Rather than causing fat people, obesity prevalence was highly significantly negatively related to the density of restaurants.

The reason is because the impact of restaurant food is exaggerated. Americans only consume about 15% of total calorie intake in restaurants. As a country, we may be fat, but that's not due to evil corporate marketing, it's due to cultural maturity. Science and technology have allowed for the poorest people to be obese for the first time in history. And so we are, at least for now.

Professor John Speakman of the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in their statement, “If fast food establishments have driven the obesity epidemic then one would predict that in areas where there are more of these establishments the obesity prevalence would be higher. However, what we actually found was that the more restaurants that there were in an area (both fast food and full service), the lower the obesity rate. This was principally because areas which tended to have the most restaurants were occupied by residents with a higher levels of education and more disposable income, which are known factors linked to lower obesity levels. When we corrected for these factors the relationship between obesity and restaurant density disappeared.”

Hank Campbell is the President of the American Council on Science and Health, a pro-science consumer advocacy group in New York City, and is the founder of Science 2.0. He does not receive any funding from Big Obesity.