California has paved the way for many innovative health trends and off-the-beaten-path ideas, but when it decided to make a bold move to help curb the obesity epidemic, it had nothing to show for it. In 2008, city lawmakers passed a zoning ordinance that ultimately limited the poorest sections of Los Angeles from opening or expanding fast food outlets. They created a fast food desert in the 32-square-mile area that’s been struggling with climbing obesity rates and related health problems for years.

The idea made sense in theory; fast food consumption is linked to obesity. If fast food restaurants were removed, lawmakers reasoned, the rate of obesity would decrease. Unfortunately, seven years later the researchers from UCLA Center for Health Policy Research calculated the results and found, between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of overweight or obese residents actually increased from 63 percent to 75 percent.

"What has changed? Well, nothing," the study’s lead author Roland Sturm, a senior economist at Rand Corp. told the Los Angeles Times. "It had no meaningful effect. There's no evidence that diets have improved more in South LA. Obesity and overweight rates have not fallen."

Something needed to be done to try and slow the rising rates. Across the United States, 57 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and children are following not too far behind, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local health experts doubted a single intervention would be enough to reverse the increasing obesity rates in the area. Food is only one side of the coin. A diet rich in healthful foods needs to be paired with exercise to encourage a full lifestyle change.

"We never believed it was going to be an overnight situation where all of a sudden the community was going to be healthy," Councilman Bernand C. Parks, who coauthored the zoning restriction, told LA Times. Park said when the fast food ban was first put into place, he hoped it would attract more restaurants and food markets selling fresh, healthful foods.

Fast food restaurants have doubled the amount opened since 1970, and with each new Golden Arch, burger crown, freckly red head, the colonel, and Chihuahua in America came soon-to-be overweight and obese mouths to feed. Their establishments brought towns, cities, and states, highly processed foods packed with calories, fat, and sodium.

According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 30 percent of Americans said they eat fast food at least once a week. From the convenience to the inexpensive, eat-on-the-go menu items, fast food was created by Americans because it caters to the American lifestyle. It has been so intertwined in today’s fast-paced society that researchers and policymakers alike are having a hard time untangling the mess it's made of our health.