Study: Rural U.S. more likely to be obese

Sept. 16, 2012 at 5:22 PM   |   Comments

KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say Americans living in rural areas are more likely to be obese than those living in urban areas.

Christie Befort of the University of Kansas Medical Center said there might be two significant reasons why rural residents are more likely to be overweight -- cultural diet and physical isolation.

The researchers analyzed data of the National Center for Health Statistics that used measured heights and weights of people. Previous studies relied on self-reported data, which typically underestimate the prevalence of obesity, Befort said.

The study, published in the Journal of Rural Health, found rural Americans typically consume a diet higher in fat.

The research demonstrated the rural-urban obesity disparity existed in younger Americans, ages 20-39, but not in older age groups. Befort said this could be partially attributed to increased mechanization of previously labor-intensive jobs.

"There is a definite cultural diet in rural America, full of rich, homemade foods including lots of meat and dessert," Befort said in a statement. "Access -- healthcare, prevention and lifestyle activities -- is often about travel time in a rural area, but it can also be that there's no place to go. It's tough to get to a gym if you live outside of a town without one."

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