Talk about the power in proximity. According to a recent study conducted at The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, people who live close to a lot of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King have a 13 percent increased risk of having a stroke compared with people whose neighborhoods are not dominated by these types of eateries.

Researchers claim that while there is no proof of direct cause and effect, there is an association. “We need to start unraveling why these particular communities have higher stroke risks,” said Lewis Morgenstern, MD, the lead author. “Is it direct consumption of fast food? Is it the lack of more healthy options? Is there something completely different in these neighborhoods that is associated with poor health?”

By looking at a U.S Census Bureau report, they found the number of fast-food restaurants in each neighborhood; they compared neighborhoods with the lowest number of fast-food restaurants—fewer than 12—to those with the highest number—more than 33. Stroke risk rose 1 percent for each fast-food restaurant in a neighborhood.

Morgenstern believes that public health advocates should focus more energies on promoting healthier eating in these neighborhoods with more fast food restaurants.