Quinn wants zoning changes to fight obesity

March 24, 2010 2:47:41 PM PDT
New York City could soon be cracking down on where fast-food restaurants open up. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says she wants the city to look at making it harder for them to open up in poorer neighborhoods.

In fact, in some city neighborhoods, fast-food is almost the only food available. Quinn would like to change that.

"What we're going to ask the Charter Revision Commission to do is add, amend, change the land-use process, so we have this ability to look at public health questions," she said.

Quinn and others say the obesity epidemic, especially among children, is a public health emergency that warrants extraordinary attention. Research has shown that the more fast-food places in a neighborhood, the more likely people are to be overweight.

And a just-released study comparing childhood obesity in New York and London suggests changing zoning laws to limit access to fast food can make a difference.

"By limiting the number of outlets, especially in those areas with high rates of obesity, we can contribute to the effort and reduce childhood obesity," said professor Nicholas Freudenberg, from Hunter College.

There was plenty of support for that idea Wednesday in the Bronx.

This isn't the first time there's been talk of limiting the number of fast-food restaurants in the city. About 4 year ago, a Councilman in the Bronx proposed a law, but it got nowhere because of city zoning rules.