Forty Percent Of Rural Residents Are Obese Says New Study
Forty percent of rural residents are obese, compared with 33% of urban residents.
There was no difference in physical activity between the rural and urban participants, but rural participants consumed a much higher percentage of their daily calories from fat. That finding is in keeping with reports from previous rural health studies that heavy meals and limited access to healthy foods are common in rural areas. A diet with a higher percentage of calories from fat was the strongest determinant of obesity and a major contributor to the obesity disparity between rural and urban Americans.
The study is the first to use body mass index, or BMI, classification based on researcher-measured height and weight to compare rates of obesity in rural and urban adults. Previous studies relied on participants’ self-reports of height and weight, which led to too-low estimates of obesity.
Among rural participants, several factors were associated with higher rates of obesity, including being married, being African-American, or consuming a higher daily calorie intake or a higher percentage of calories from fat.
Urban dwellers were more likely to be obese if they were older, African-American, had less education, were inactive and consumed a higher percentage of calories from fat.