NRHA’s Journal makes national news for rural obesity study

The National Rural Health Association’s Journal of Rural Health is making national news today, thanks to a research article on rural obesity.

Forty percent of rural residents are obese, compared with 33 percent of adults living in urban areas.

“We simply cannot ignore the link between obesity and poverty, and the disproportionate impact this is having on rural America,” says Alan Morgan, NRHA CEO. “If we truly want to decrease health care costs and improve the nation’s health status, we are going to have to start viewing obesity as a top-tier public health concern for rural Americans.”

The study by Christie A. Befort, PhD, and Niaman Nazir, MD, of the University of Kansas Medical Center and Michael G. Perri, PhD, of the University of Florida, is the first to use body mass index information based on researcher-measured height and weight to compare rates of obesity in rural and urban residents. Previous studies relied on participants’ self-reports of height and weight, which led to too-low estimates of obesity, Befort says.

“I was surprised by the magnitude of the rural-urban difference – it was larger than expected and much larger than previously estimated,” says Perri.

The researchers discovered that even when other contributing factors are held constant, rural residents were more likely to be obese.

“Living in a rural area isn’t always recognized as a category for obesity-related health disparities but, according to our study, it should be,” said Befort.

Here are just a few of the stories about the Journal of Rural Health study:
ABC News
CBS News
The Los Angeles Times
Science Daily
Kansas Public Radio
University of Kansas Medical Center release
University of Florida release

NRHA members can access the full Journal report and other innovative rural research here.