LOS ANGELES -- The conventional wisdom goes something like this: Obesity rates are skyrocketing among the poorest Americans, therefore fast-food restaurants must be to blame.
But a new study by a professor at the University of California-Davis medical school has found that it's Americans with salaries at the higher end of the spectrum -- in some cases as high as $80,000 to $90,000 -- who are driving fast-food consumption at the likes of McDonald's and Burger King.
"There's a strong correlation been income and obesity," professor Paul Leigh told the Los Angeles Times. "And so people say, 'Oh, well, it's the fast-food restaurants that are causing obesity among the poor.' But that's not true. To focus on fast-food restaurants as the sole cause of obesity is incorrect."
The professor of health economics said the study of the dining habits of about 5,000 Americans found that as a household's income increased, so did visits to chain fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's.
The research is to be published in a coming issue of the journal Population Health Management.
Mr. Leigh, who stresses that he's no fan of fast-food restaurants, wants to make sure that lawmakers and others in positions of power are targeting the right causes of obesity.
Soda pop, for example, is cheap and plentiful and a key contributor to obesity rates, he said.