How your commute could be making you fatter

Passing a drive-thru McCafe on your commute to work might be convenient, but could be putting you at risk of being overweight, a new study has found.

Researchers looked at hundreds of Americans' commuting routes and what food outlets they passed every day and, after adjusting for socio-economic factors, found a link between fast-food restaurants and high body-mass index (BMI).

The more fast-food outlets there were, the more likely people were to be overweight.

"In our daily lives, we are exposed to several healthy and unhealthy food choices, which has an impact on BMI," said lead researcher Adriana Dornelles of Arizona State University.

"The availability and variety of fast-food restaurants along our commute create endless opportunities for a quick, cheap, and unhealthy meal, which results, on average, in higher body mass index."

A link was also found between high BMI and supermarkets, but the presence of full-service restaurants seemed to lower the chance of locals being overweight.

Fast food restaurants near workplaces had no effect on participants' weight.

Health advocates in New Zealand have in recent years called for limits on the number of fast-food outlets near schools, with research finding they're far more prevalent in poorer areas than rich.

The latest research was published in the journal PLOS One.