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Heart risks rise when convenience store trips are common, study says

Where else but a convenience store can you fill up your tank, get an extra large 49-cent cup of coffee and be a scratch away from winning it big?

Unfortunately, those same places of wonder also are shrines to chili dogs, greasy pizza, cartons of cigarettes and 64-ounce sodas. While convenience stores may be handy, living too close to a bunch of them may be an inconvenience to your health, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers used the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to compare the percentage of convenience stores that are within 2 miles of the patient’s home to 10 years of a patient’s coronary artery calcium (CAC) test results. After adjusting for other factors, researchers found that for every 10 percent increase in the number of nearby convenience stores, a person’s risk of developing atherosclerosis increases by 34 percent.

This study shows that living next to a high concentration of mini-marts and convenience stores may influence negative health outcomes. Researchers also looked into the percentage of fast-food areas near a person’s home, but those results were inconclusive. They believe that the convenience store data delivered more conclusive results because these stores offer more products that could potentially clog arteries.

This study gives further proof that where you live affects your health, Heart Association officials said. Places that have high concentrations of convenience stores often have fewer grocery stores and healthy food options close by.

Almost 40 million Americans live in “low-access communities,” where at least a third of the population is more than a mile away from a grocery store in urban areas, or more than 10 miles away in rural areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Imagine what it would be like to not have a single grocery store in the state of California. That’s how many people are affected with limited access to healthy food options.

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