Attention, fast food devotees. If the start of a new year wasnt enough to make you change your eating habits, the results of new research might be. A long-term study has specifically linked consumption of fast food to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Scientists writing in the current issue of the Lancet report that study participants who visited fast food restaurants twice a week or more gained 10 more pounds and experienced double the increase in insulin resistance compared to subjects who indulged less than once a week. "While there have been many discussions about fast food's effects on obesity, this appears to be the first scientific, comprehensive long-term study to show a strong connection between fast-food consumption, obesity, and risk for type 2 diabetes," comments study co-author Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota.

Pereira and colleague David Ludwig of the Childrens Hospital Boston followed 3,031 African-American and white young adults ages 18 to 30 at the start of the study for 15 years, monitoring their fast-food habits, weight and insulin resistance. Taking into account television viewing, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking and other lifestyle factors, the team determined that increases in body weight and insulin resistance from fast-food intake seemed to be largely independent of those factors.