California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach
Baldwin Park, California, which claims to be home to the first drive-thru, has banned drive-thru construction for nine months, in an effort to combat obesity. Image via CS Monitor.

Baldwin Park, California, home of the country's first drive-thru, has banned drive-thru construction for nine months in an effort to combat obesity. Image via CS Monitor.

The city of Baldwin Park, Calif. — the birthplace of the drive-thru restaurant  – made the news this week after city officials banned construction of any new drive-thrus for at least the next nine months.

The first In-N-Out drive-thru burger joint was established in Baldwin Park in 1948; there are now 17 drive-thru restaurants serving the town’s 83,000 residents…and contributing to rising levels of obesity.

City officials behind the ban said it was borne of their desire to cut away at “in-car dining” culture, which contributes to congested roads and clogged arteries.

Fighting obesity and its associated health risks, like heart disease, was planners’ top priority.  Fast food and car culture have long been linked to rising obesity in the United States. A 2005 study from the Centers for Law and the Public’s Health of Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University focused specifically on how fast food zoning and bans on drive-thru services can help to combat obesity.  It’s not only the food but also the drive-thru culture that keeps Americans fat.

Baldwin Park Community Development Manager Mark Castagnola expressed optimism that other cities would follow in Baldwin Park’s footsteps, saying, “We see ourselves at the forefront of the fight on obesity.”

“HEALTH IN ALL POLICIES” APPROACH TO URBAN PLANNING

Reducing car dependence — and Americans’ proclivity to do everything from bank transactions to pharmaceutical pick-ups without getting out of the car — is essential to fighting obesity in the United States. Baldwin Park’s small step in that direction is a great example of the “health in all policies” principle that we wrote about a few weeks ago.

Incorporating health concerns into transport planning — and mandating Health Impact Assessments for new projects — will help people stay in better shape and live longer and more fulfilling lives. As Allison Bishins pointed out in our previous post, “If left unchecked the ‘hidden health costs‘ of transportation will continue to undermine the country’s economy and quality of life.”

Fortunately, the health in all policies (HiAP) approach is gaining momentum worldwide,  as the public health community increasingly acknowledges that people’s health is mostly determined by factors outside of the health sector’s traditional sphere of influence — education, housing, and transport, for instance.

In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with the South Australian Government to host the 2010 Health in All Policies International Meeting in Adelaide, Australia. The stated aim of the meeting was to move the HiAP agenda forward by “identifying key principles and pathways that contribute to action for health across all sectors of government, and engage the health sector in contributing to the goals of other sectors.”  The Government of South Australia’s Public Health Bulletin from July features papers that were presented and recurrent themes from the meeting.

The bulletin links “infrastructure, planning and transport” to people’s health, noting:

  • Optimal planning for roads, transport and housing requires the consideration of health impacts as this can reduce environmentally costly emissions, and improve the capacity of transport networks and their efficiency with moving people, goods and services.
  • Better transport opportunities, including cycling and walking opportunities, build safer and more livable communities, and reduce environmental degradation, enhancing health.

LIVABLE STREETS REDUCE HEALTH INEQUITIES

The bulletin also highlights how sustainable transport improvements are essential to closing gaps in health inequities — “the unfair, unjust, and avoidable causes of ill health,” and calls public health workers to action, saying, “the health sector cannot sit by and idly accept policy decisions that are likely to  increase health inequities.”

Policies that bring more bike lanes, sidewalks and public space to poor urban neighborhoods, for instance, could help counteract a trend of higher obesity in low-income communities. Improving public transit connections for these neighborhoods can also help reverse this health inequity associated with transport, since most public transit trips involve at least one walking or biking segment.

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  • Cjtreegirl

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  • Chris

    Costs you about 20 calories to walk inside and pick up your 1000 calorie Double Double combo. I don’t see this helping much.

  • Pingback: Applying Public Health Approaches to Sustainable Transportation « Pollution Free Cities

  • http://twitter.com/ben_hr ben_hr

    California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach http://bit.ly/deDOiR /via @TheCityFix #HiAP #HIA #CA #food

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/hiablog hiablog

    California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach http://bit.ly/deDOiR /via @TheCityFix #HiAP #HIA #CA #food

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/hiablog hiablog

    Banning drive thoughs to combat obesity in California (FR) RT @INSPQ_Pol_pub: Le bannissement des restaurants à l’au… http://bit.ly/9pAxIU

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • LA Cooking Classes

    Not sure if you know, but the original drive-thru In-n-Out you mentioned is actually being revamped for tourist and In-n-Out fans. Once the remodeling is done, you can drive-thru it and take photos.

    This comment was originally posted on green LA girl

  • Isle Dance

    This is wonderful. It reminds me of the little film shown in elementary school…about how one day we’d barely walk anywhere and thus, our bodies would wilt away from the simplest of tasks. Gah!
    Isle Dance´s last blog ..Little Bird Flew Into Window

    This comment was originally posted on green LA girl

  • Gladys

    Thank goodness somebody is doing something positive hope the rest of the world follow suit!
    Gladys´s last blog ..Early Puberty In Young Girls May Be Linked To Exposure To Chemicals

    This comment was originally posted on green LA girl

  • Robert

    This is still a tough sell with childhood obesity at record numbers and parents ignorant/uneducated to this fact.
    I guess it has to start some how. Baby steps…
    Robert´s last blog ..Dont forget the Rebates

    This comment was originally posted on green LA girl

  • Jef Nickerson

    I forgot to note why I was linking to TransLink’s post.

    RIPTA has an RFP just issued, or being issued very soon, regarding branding for the Rapid Bus service on the 11/99 routes. So a look at the talk in Vancouver seems timely.

    This comment was originally posted on GC:PVD | Greater City: Providence

  • Jhenifer Pabillano @ TransLink

    Hey — Jhenifer here from TransLink’s Buzzer blog. Thanks so much for the link!

    This comment was originally posted on GC:PVD | Greater City: Providence

  • http://www.johnconner.com john conner

    This is a great idea. The city officials should be applauded for this decision.

    By parking the car and walking into the counter the person might burn 5 calories which they would not have worked off by going through the drive-thru, to buy their 1,000 calorie meal. Brilliant.

  • Pingback: Drive-thru birthplace Baldwin Park bans new drive-thrus | green LA girl

  • http://twitter.com/jlangem jlangem

    California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach http://t.co/OLt88Q5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/INSPQ_Pol_pub INSPQ_Pol_pub

    Le bannissement des restaurants à l’auto pour lutter contre l’obésité en Californie: RT @clarabermudez http://bit.ly/9pAxIU

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/mangosryum mangosryum

    California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach http://shar.es/00sDT

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/jhiskes jhiskes

    Baldwin Park, Calif. — birthplace of the drive-thru (an In-N-Out) — bans new drive-thrus to combat obesity http://bit.ly/a21OGm

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/TheCityFix TheCityFix

    California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach http://bit.ly/9pAxIU @LetsMoveLA #obesity #publichealth #urbanplanning

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter