This very short briefing begins with our foundational premise that the health and vitality of urban communities is a block-by-block phenomenon. Our first task is to measure the distance from every City of Chicago block to the nearest grocery store and fast food restaurant. Next, we develop an empirical score to quantify the balance of food choice available to residents. Finally, we compare food access and food balance directly to health outcomes, holding constant education, income, and race.

The briefing shows the key map and explanation of what we found concerning Food Balance in Chicago by tract. Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group is the sole developer of these very explicit food desert definitions and the innovator of the Food Balance Score.

What we found is that majority African American and majority White communities that have out-of-balance food environments will have higher rates of residents dying prematurely from diabetes that are statistically significant, controlling for income, education, and race. African American communities will be the most likely to experience the greatest total years of life lost from diabetes as a result.

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