THE EFFECT OF FAST-FOOD OUTLETS AVAILABILITY ON BMI STATUS AMONG ADOLESCENTS IN KUANTAN, PAHANG
Background/Objectives: The global and local growth of fast food outlets and the high acceptance level of their products by consumers show that people nowadays prefer easy and convenient food choices such as food from fast food outlets due to busy and hectic lifestyle. There is abundant evidence that linked fast food consumption with obesity. However, there are not enough data mentioning the association between fast food outlets availability with adolescent’s BMI status in Malaysia. Therefore, this paper aims to study the relationship of the availability of fast-food outlets availability around schools with BMI status of adolescents in Kuantan. Subjects/Methods: Five hundred and thirty secondary high school students from district of Kuantan, Malaysia were measured for their weights and heights. The ArcGIS Network Analyst extension was used to create a network dataset to generate 400-meter, 800-meter and 1500-m service areas around each school and numbers of fast-food outlets available within each buffer were recorded. Results: From total 530 students, 60% of them have normal BMIAZ while 16.6%, 14.2% and 9.2% were overweight, obese and underweight respectively. This study, however, did not find any significant factors associated with adolescents’ BMI status. There is no significant different between fast food outlets availability around school areas with adolescents’ BMI status. Conclusion: Factors like fast food prices, delivery services and adolescents’ nutrition knowledge may affect the food choices although the fast-food outlets availability is high near their schools. This study also clearly showed the co-existing of over-nutrition and undernutrition among adolescents in Kuantan. Future studies on food environment with obesity in Malaysia should include more fast-food outlets, local restaurants and ‘pasar malam’ where plenty of unhealthy and high caloric food being sold.