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Log In / Register | Sep 22, 2017

How U.S. Policies Promoted Fast Food Franchises over Other Businesses

U.S. government policies and American demographics have had an important influence in encouraging fast food franchise ownership over other kinds of business ownership in poorer, ethnic neighborhoods, according to a new book, Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food with Government Help. Author Dr. Chin Jou holds a BA from Cornell, and MA and PhD degrees from Princeton. She is a professor of American history at the University of Sydney.

Her previous work investigated the history of the influence of fast food and the federal government on obesity in the U.S.

Jou’s [new] book chronicles how policies put in place by the federal government actually made it easier for minorities to open fast-food franchises in their neighborhoods than grocery stores. Today the landscape of urban America reflects this history. There’s a fast-food restaurant within walking distance in many low-income neighborhoods, but nary a green leafy vegetable in sight.

“African-American consumption of fast food today is not a function of any longstanding preferences for fast food,” Jou told NPR in an interview. She says that it’s a consequence of “targeted relentless marketing,” as well as historic developments like the Small Business Administration loan program and high unemployment rates among African-Americans. — NPR/Flatland KCPT

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