Giving Compass' Take:

• A new study suggests that passing by fast food restaurants on your way to or from work can be destructive to your diet, and, in fact, linked to obesity rates.

• How can philanthropy help curb the obesity epidemic? 

• Read more about why obesity rates continue to climb. 

By now, we're all aware that the best way to avoid gaining weight is to keep unhealthy foods out of your home. Similarly, snacks at the office can impede one's dietary goals.

But new research points to a different danger zone, a frequently traversed space where your self-discipline can easily slip: that stretch between your residence and your workplace.

A study of New Orleans elementary school employees found that those who drove by—or even near—more fast food restaurants on their way to or from work had, on average, a higher body-mass index than their peers. BMI is a common indicator of whether a person is overweight or obese.

"In our daily lives, we are exposed to several healthy and unhealthy food choices, which has an impact on BMI," Arizona State University economist Adriana Dornelles, the study's author, said in announcing the findings. "The availability and variety of fast food restaurants along our commute create endless opportunities for a quick, cheap, and unhealthy meal."

The research, published in the online journal PLoS One, utilizes data from a health-related worksite intervention program for elementary school employees in New Orleans. The 710 participants, who worked at 22 different schools, had their height and weight recorded in the fall of 2006, and again two years later.

Read the full article on commuting by fast-food restaurants by Tom Jacobs at Pacific Standard.