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The Association Between Census Tract Healthy Food Accessibility and Life Expectancy in the United States

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Accessibility of healthy food is an important predictor for several health outcomes, but its association with life expectancy is unclear. We evaluated the association between U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Research Atlas measures of healthy food accessibility and life expectancy at birth across contiguous U.S. census tracts using spatial modeling analysis. Both income and healthy food accessibility were associated with life expectancy at birth, as indicated by shorter life expectancy in low-income census tracts when comparing tracts with similar healthy food accessibility level, and in low-access tracts when comparing tracts with similar income level. Compared to high-income/high-access census tracts, life expectancy at birth was lower in high-income/low-access (− 0.33 years; 95% confidence interval − 0.42, − 0.28), low-income/high-access (− 1.45 years; − 1.52, − 1.38), and low-income/low-access (− 2.29 years; − 2.38, − 2.21) tracts after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and incorporating vehicle availability. Effective interventions to increase healthy food accessibility may improve life expectancy.

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Correspondence to Daniel Wiese.

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Massey, J., Wiese, D., McCullough, M.L. et al. The Association Between Census Tract Healthy Food Accessibility and Life Expectancy in the United States. J Urban Health 100, 572–576 (2023).

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