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Am J Public Health. 2005 Sep;95(9):1575-81.

Clustering of fast-food restaurants around schools: a novel application of spatial statistics to the study of food environments.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



We examined the concentration of fast food restaurants in areas proximal to schools to characterize school neighborhood food environments.


We used geocoded databases of restaurant and school addresses to examine locational patterns of fast-food restaurants and kindergartens and primary and secondary schools in Chicago. We used the bivariate K function statistical method to quantify the degree of clustering (spatial dependence) of fast-food restaurants around school locations.


The median distance from any school in Chicago to the nearest fast-food restaurant was 0.52 km, a distance that an adult can walk in little more than 5 minutes, and 78% of schools had at least 1 fast-food restaurant within 800 m. Fast-food restaurants were statistically significantly clustered in areas within a short walking distance from schools, with an estimated 3 to 4 times as many fast-food restaurants within 1.5 km from schools than would be expected if the restaurants were distributed throughout the city in a way unrelated to school locations.


Fast-food restaurants are concentrated within a short walking distance from schools, exposing children to poor-quality food environments in their school neighborhoods.

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