South Los Angeles has roughly 900 restaurants, nearly half of which are fast-food establishments. Perhaps not unrelated: the adult obesity rate in South L.A. is 30 percent, which is 10 percent higher than the rest of Los Angeles County, and diabetes levels there are also a county high, according to a 2007 study by the L.A. County Department of Public Health. In an effort to provide residents with more nutritious choices, the L.A. City Council adopted landmark legislation in July mandating a one-year moratorium on the building of new fast-food eateries in a 32-square-mile area. (Fast-food zoning exists in other cities but is based on aesthetic considerations, not health factors.) According to Jan Perry, a council member who co-sponsored the bill and whose district is part of South L.A., the idea is to freeze fast-food development so that sit-down restaurants and quality-food markets will build in the area. ''When every corner is taken up with fast food,'' Perry says, ''there's no room for anyone else.''
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