CHICAGO (CBS) — A program on Chicago’s South Side is being touted as a model for the nation in combating the high rate of diabetes in poor neighborhoods.

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For the past four years, the University of Chicago doctors Marshall Chin and Monica Peek have been working to reduce the rate of diabetes on the South Side where nearly 20 percent of the population suffers from the life-threatening disease.

That compares with about 7 percent of the population citywide. Dr. Chin says it’s more difficult to make healthier choices in poor neighborhoods.

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“There isn’t access to fresh fruits and fresh vegetables in many places or that at times, some neighborhoods might not be safe to walk in, to exercise in.”

Dr. Chin’s been working with local retailers to stock more fresh fruits and vegetables and with neighborhood health clinics to educate patients about diabetes prevention.

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The program’s making such a difference that the National Alliance to Reduce Diabetes is copying it in other cities.