LA to fast food: Not so fast

A string of fast food chains line a street in South Los Angeles.

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Hey, in economic times like these, sometimes you just need chocolate. Or a low-fat sandwich? That's what Dunkin' Donuts is banking on. The seller of all things bear clawed and jelly-filled will start offering low fat sandwiches and muffins in August. That should go over big here in LA. We tend to be a little health obsessed. You might remember that scene from Annie Hall, when Woody Allen tries to order lunch in our fair city:

Woody Allen: I'm going to have the alfalfa sprouts and a plate of mashed yeast.

Mmm. Anyway, now we're even upping the ante. The Los Angeles City Council has passed a year-long ban on new fast food restaurants going into South Los Angeles. It's one of the city's most impoverished neighborhoods and has one of the highest obesity rates. Renita Jablonski reports.


Renita Jablonski: Resident Christine Jelks is waiting at a bus stop in south LA. She can point to a McDonald's, KFC, Taco Bell, and El Pollo Loco.

Christine Jelks: We do need more healthy foods.

Nearly three-quarters of the restaurants in her neighborhood are fast food. Councilwoman Jan Perry says her constituents deserve more healthy options.

Jan Perry: We are a community that is disproportionately affected by hyper-tension, heart disease, childhood obesity, morbid obesity, diabetes, you name it.

The moratorium on new fast food joints also includes incentives for grocery stores and sit-down restaurants to move in.

Andrew Casana with the California Restaurant Association says it's unfair to hold the restaurant industry responsible for a neighborhood's health.

Andrew Casana: If someone wants a cheeseburger, or wants a burrito, or a pizza, they're going to order that.

The ordinance still needs approval from the mayor.

In Los Angeles, I'm Renita Jablonski for Marketplace.

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