Flame Broiled Burger - © meatfreemondays.com

Living Near Pubs, Fast Food Restos A Health Hazard?

This is an angle on pollution I had not preciously considered. And it may have major implications for those most at risk of heart disease. A new study spotlights the potential negative health effects of resto exhaust fumes…

Deep Frying - © quora comDeep frying: Produces high levels of acrylamides, too. Rivalling Fast Food
grills that brown hamburgers patties all day. Just walking by a
Fast Food resto can increase your risk of heart disease…

What’s going on?

A team of researchers at Tulane University  wanted to find out if the cooking exhaust from restaurants was hazardous to our health. Particularly the greasy fumes from pubs and Fast Food Restaurants.

Their goal was to demonstrate the need to factor-in impacts of food preparation environments in nutrition studies.

What they did

The team accessed data from the UK Biobank — a large-scale database containing health information for more than 500,000 adults in the United Kingdom. “They analysed subjects’ exposure to three types of food environments — pubs or bars, restaurants or cafeterias and fast-food restaurants,”according to a Heart.Org release. “Exposure was determined by proximity (living within 1 kilometer / 0.62 miles – or a within a 15 minute walk) and density (the number of ready-to-eat food outlets within the predefined 1 kilometer / 0.62 miles).

“The study documented nearly 13,000 heart failure cases during a 12-year follow-up period, recorded through national electronic health-related datasets.”

What they found

In short, the study found a strong connection between the proximity of a subject to a ‘ready-to-eat food outlet’ and the risk for heart disease. The closer, the higher.


  • Overall, participants in the highest density of ready-to-eat food outlets — defined as 1 kilometer /.62 mile area with 11 or more ready-to-eat outlets — had a 16 percent greater risk of heart failure compared to those with no ready-to-eat food environments near their homes.
  • Those in the highest density areas of pubs and bars showed a 14 percent higher risk for heart failure; while those in the highest density areas for fast-food outlets had a 12 percent higher risk.
  • Participants who lived closest to pubs and bars — less than 500 meters (.31 miles) — had a 13 percent higher risk of heart failure; while those closest to fast-food outlets had a 10 percent higher risk compared to those who lived the farthest away (more than 2,000 meters or 1.24 miles).
  • Heart failure risk was stronger among participants without a college degree and adults in urban areas without access to formal physical activity facilities such as gyms.

The takeway

The findings were ‘in line’ with researchers’ expectations.

“Because previous studies have suggested that exposure to ready-to-eat food environments is associated with risks of other disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which may also increase the risk of heart failure,” Qi said.

The study report suggests improving the environments surrounding ‘quick meal option’ preparation facilities in urban areas. And helping more folks attain higher levels of education.

Ironicaly, the cooks and servers who work in those preparation facilities are kept safe from the issues identified in Qi’s study and the previous ones he referred to. All resto, hotel and commercial cooking environments are required to have massive, powerful exhaust systems to remove cooking fumes from so they don’t affect workers or patrons.

My take

The study’s findings dove-tail nicely with my observation a few posts ago: Folks with strong allergies to certain foods can have potentially dangerous reactions just from walking past a restaurant that exhausts its cooking fumes into the street.

We have to remember that, along with the greasy vapours from the grill, come dangerous cooking byproducts called ‘acrylamides’. According to the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, “Acrylamide arises in certain foods because of a chemical reaction when they are cooked at high temperature,” says dietitian Kendall Stelwagen. “Acrylamide forms when foods like potatoes and cereals become crispy and brown. It even forms in roasted coffee beans.”

And acrylamides are a proven cause of cancer. However, “The only studies to show a clear link between acrylamide and cancer are animal studies. These involved very high levels of the chemical. Studies that followed people over time did not find a link between eating foods with acrylamide and cancer.”

Nevertheless, there are high levels of acrylamides in grill exhaust.

Move to a safe distance from ‘grill’ restos? Avoid walking past? It’s your choice… I’m taking the long way around.

~ Maggie J.