Researchers say that the obesity problem has as much to do with what people are eating as where people are eating.
More than a year ago, the L.A. City Council banned the opening of new fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. The concern was that one of the poorest sections of the city was overrun with chains serving less healthy food, and officials believed that was contributing to the high number of overweight and obese people.
However, a new study by the RAND Corporation says that restrictions on fast food restaurants are unlikely to improve the diet of residents or reduce obesity.
"Like this Burger King, if I go there six times a day, it's not their fault, it's my lack of self control," said Elisabeth Williams, a South L.A. resident.
Researchers found that more South L.A. residents buy high-calorie snacks and soft drinks from small food stores compared to people in other parts of the city.
For every 100,000 residents, there are 19 fast food chains in South L.A., and the L.A. County average is 30. The number of small food stores is higher in South L.A. with 58 for every 100,000 residents compared to the county average of 29.
"It's hard to find unsalted foods or snacks, and it's extremely hard to find unsweetened products for diabetics, and yet this is a neighborhood with a high concentration of those types of illnesses," said Mertha Kemp, of South L.A.
Many residents say they're frustrated with the lack of large, quality supermarkets in South L.A. Some even travel outside of the community to shop.
"Unless you change your mind about how you think about the things you eat, you're still going to eat the same types of foods," said Monica Adams of South L.A.
Researchers say focusing on measures including calorie labeling on menus will likely have a bigger impact on reducing obesity.