In far Southwest Virginia, fast food restaurants consistently make up more than half of all restaurants in a given locality.
Among the New River and Roanoke valleys, Salem, Pulaski County and Bedford City stand out as having the highest percentage of fast food restaurants with each having fast food account for 60 percent or more of all restaurants.
Roanoke, however, has by far the highest number of fast food establishments with 94.
The glimpse into the industry comes from the County Health Rankings data released yesterday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
It’s the first year the report has included the count of fast food restaurants. To do that, the researchers identified the restaurants by including those with a specific North American Industrial Classification System code that applies to quick service where patrons generally order or select items and pay before eating or carrying it out.
Studies show an increase in obesity and diabetes prevalence with increased access to fast food in a community, according to the rankings.
Here’s how the fast food industry is represented in the Roanoke and New River valleys:
- Pulaski County: 30 establishments account for 65 percent of restaurants.
- Bedford City: 15 establishments account for 63 percent of restaurants
- Salem: 34 places establishments for 60 percent of restaurants
- Giles County: 14 establishments account for 56 percent of restaurants
- Franklin County: 28 establishments account for 52 percent of restaurants
- Craig County: 1 establishment accounts for 50 percent of restaurants
- Botetourt County: 17 establishment account for 47 percent of restaurants
- Floyd County: 7 establishments account for 47 percent of restaurants
- Montgomery County: 65 establishments account for 46 percent of restaurants
- Roanoke County: 46 establishments account for 45 percent of restaurants
- Radford: 11 establishments account for 44 percent of restaurants
- Roanoke: 94 establishments account 44 percent of restaurants
- Bedford County: 18 establishments account for 34 percent of restaurants
There are limitations to the researchers’ measure of fast food restaurants as a proxy for consumption of fast food that are acknowledged in the report. The measurement does not indicate how much food is consumed by a patron or how healthy the food is. Additionally, it doesn’t include how often people are visiting the fast food restaurants.
What do you think? Does the prevalence of fast food restaurants have a role in the health of our communities?