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Why is Obesity Affecting People in Rural Areas More?

(Image source: Pixabay | Image author: Joenomias)

Obesity is an epidemic that is affecting countries worldwide. From obesity in children to adults suffering from weight problems, the issue is affecting many people.

But what group of people are most at risk of obesity?

In Canada, 34% of adults are considered to be overweight and 27% adults are considered to be obese, according to a 2018 study. Whilst in America, the prevalence of obesity was 39.5% (affecting about 93.3 million US adults in 2015-2016).

Interestingly, a study has confirmed that people in rural areas are at a higher risk to obesity than those in urban areas.

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Obesity in Rural Areas

Imperial College London found that obesity is increasing quicker in rural areas than it is in cities, according to a new study of global trends in Body Mass Index (BMI).

The study analysed the height and weight data of over 112 million adults from both urban and rural areas in 200 different countries around the world. The data was collected between 1985 and 2017.

The study found that BMI rose by an average of 2.0 kg/m2 in women and 2.2 kg/m2 in men globally, which essentially means that each person has become 5-6 kg heavier. The study concluded that over half of the global rise, during the 33 years of the data collected, was caused by an increase in rural areas.

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The researchers found that average BMI increased in rural areas by around 2.1 kg/m2 for both genders. Whereas, in cities the BMI increased by 1.3 kg/m2 in women and 1.6 kg/m2 in men. The study clearly shows that rural areas are more at risk to obesity.

Senior author, Profession Majid Ezzati from Imperial’s School of Public Health said about the results, “Discussions around public health tend to focus more on the negative aspects of living in cities. In fact, cities provide a wealth of opportunities for better nutrition, more physical exercise and recreation, and overall improved health.”

Why is Obesity Affecting Rural Areas?

Lower income, education, pricier healthy foods, and fewer leisure and sports facilities could all be playing a part in why obesity is affecting rural areas over urban areas. (Source: Fitbook.ca.)

Lower income can affect the type of quality of food that a person can purchase. So whilst countries are becoming wealthier and people have more disposable income, the newest challenge is affording pricier foods which are healthier. It is much cheaper to buy junk food, than it is to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

Another reason why obesity is affecting rural areas could be because of the education available in the rural areas. Often cities have larger funds for education and rural areas are forgotten about. Ultimately, this means that people are not receiving relevant information regarding how to look after themselves and lead healthy lifestyles.

Finally, another reason why rural areas are experiencing more obesity could also be because these areas have fewer facilities that allow people to correctly exercise. For example, rural areas have fewer gyms and leisure centres, so people don’t have the option of exercising in these environments.

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