'Food Deserts' Can Shorten Life Expectancy: Report

Living in a "food desert" — such as a neighborhood on this city's South Side — can have a negative impact on one's health, according to a study of five local areas with no full-service grocery stores that was conducted by researcher Mari Gallagher.

CHICAGO — Living in a "food desert" — such as a neighborhood on this city's South Side — can have a negative impact on one's health, according to a study of five local areas with no full-service grocery stores that was conducted by researcher Mari Gallagher.

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, adding a supermarket to a neighborhood could, collectively, mean a gain of up to 15 years of life for those suffering from diabetes; 13 years for those with liver disease; 58 years for people with diet-related cancers; and 112 years for people with cardiovascular disease.

The paper said Gallagher based her results on public-health data and the distance to the nearest grocer to estimate the gains in life expectancy.

She also found, the paper noted, that the city has made progress over the last three years by reducing the size of its food deserts by 1.4 square miles, which potentially benefits 24,000 people.

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