Study: Connection Between Good Health and Chicago Supermarkets
A new study, Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago, finds a direct correlation between access to grocery stores in local neighborhoods and the
health of the population in those areas.
For many consumers without neighborhood supermarkets, food choices often come down to fast food and other items that may be okay to eat as a treat but were never intended to
serve as everyday staples.
The study, commissioned by LaSalle Bank, measured the distance to the nearest grocery store and fast-food restaurant by city block in Chicago. This data enabled researchers to
establish a “food balance” score for each neighborhood.
African-Americans were the most likely to be stranded on so-called “food deserts.” Within Chicago, African-Americans have to travel the farthest to reach food stores while, in
many cases, having to travel the least to find a fast-food establishment.
Researcher Mari Gallagher told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think the good news of this study is that it brings a new call to action for what can be done in these communities.
We know that across the country, the black population generally has higher diet-related deaths and health disparities. Can you change somebody’s genetics? Can you change somebody’s
eating preferences? Can you change somebody’s income? Certainly there are some things along those lines that can be done . . . but the good news is you can probably even more
easily locate a grocery store somewhere.”
Discussion Questions: Do major grocery store operators have a civic duty to open stores in so-called food deserts? How does this square in Chicago where
an ordinance is being advanced that would keep big box stores out unless they agreed to wage and benefit mandates?