Fast-food Fights: News Coverage of Local Efforts to Improve Food Environments Through Land-Use Regulations, 2000-2013


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


chronic disease, fast food, health, land-use policies, news media analysis, news media framing, policy framing, race, rural, United States, urban


American Journal of Public Health

Year Published:


Policy Summary

Fast food land-use zoning policies have been proposed, and in some places implemented, to try and improve the health of that community. A fast food land-use policy implemented to improve community health could limit the number of stand alone fast food locations in a certain geographic area, or could completely ban them. While there is research studying the effects of these policies on the health of communities with such policies, little research explores the media coverage leading up to a locale’s adoption of such fast food land-use policies. This article analyzed media coverage of arguments for and against 100 fast food land-use policies in 77 communities across the United States. Fast food land-use policies were proposed because (in priority order first to last): 1) to preseve community aesthetics, 2) protect local economy, 3) improve quality of life, 4) improve the walkability of a community. Nutrition was the least referenced reason for proposed a policy. Nutrition-focused policy proposals only passed 35% of the time, while non-nutrition related proposals passed 78% of the time. Nutrition related policy proposals faced more opposition, where more likely to be in urban areas, and were more likely to be labelled as nanny state policies. Public health advocates and policymakers could reframe their nutrition oriented fast food land-use proposals to emphasize the wider community benefits of the policy (aesthetics, economic strength, etc.) as well as the nutritional benefits.

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