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When fast food restaurants outnumber grocery stores, city residents die earlier from disease

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: public health, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A new study found that residents in large cities who live farther from grocery stores than fast-food restaurants are more likely to die prematurely of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Researchers conducting the study for LaSalle Bank examined Chicago's south and west sides, where "food deserts" contain few grocery stores but abound in fast-food restaurants, and where the majority of residents are African-American.

The study measured block-by-block distance to the nearest grocery store versus the nearest fast food restaurant, and found that an average African-American block is located twice as far from a grocery store than a fast-food restaurant. Consequently, people in such areas are more likely to die early from heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes.

More than a half million Chicago residents live in food deserts, with 400,000 more living in areas that have imbalanced food choices, where it's easier to gain access to junk food than healthy food.

Lead researcher Mari Gallagher says the study provides a "statistically significant" link between food choices and health conditions in such food deserts, and that such areas can "pose serious health and wellness challenges to the residents who live within them and the city as a whole."

The study found that in general, obesity increases as access to a grocery store decreases -- regardless of income levels.

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