Obesity and Physical Inactivity in Rural America

Authors

  • Paul Daniel Patterson MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
    2. Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
      For further information, contact: Paul Daniel Patterson, MPH, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, 220 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 204, Columbia, SC 29210; e-mail patters7@mailbox.sc.edu.
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  • Charity G. Moore MSPH, PhD,

    1. South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
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  • Janice C. Probst MS, PhD,

    1. South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
    2. Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
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  • Judith Ann Shinogle MS, PhD

    1. South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
    2. Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.
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  • The research on which this paper is based was supported in part by Grant No. 1 U1C RH 00045-02 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services.

For further information, contact: Paul Daniel Patterson, MPH, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina, 220 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 204, Columbia, SC 29210; e-mail patters7@mailbox.sc.edu.

Abstract

ABSTRACT: Context and Purpose: Obesity and physical inactivity are common in the United States, but few studies examine this issue within rural populations. The present study uses nationally representative data to study obesity and physical inactivity in rural populations. Methods: Data came from the 1998 National Health Interview Survey Sample Adult and Adult Prevention Module. Self-reported height and weight were used to calculate body mass index. Physical inactivity was defined using self-reported leisure-time physical activity. Analyses included descriptive statistics, x2 tests, and logistic regression. Findings: Obesity was more common among rural (20.4%, 95% CI 19.2%–21.6%) than urban adults (17.8%, 95% CI 17.2%–18.4%). Rural residents of every racial/ethnic group were at higher risk of obesity than urban whites, other factors held equal. Other predictors of obesity included being male, age 25–74, lacking a high school diploma, having physical limitations, fair to poor health, and a history of smoking. Proportionately more rural adults were physically inactive than their urban peers (62.8% versus 59.3%). Among rural residents, minorities were not significantly more likely to be inactive than whites. Males and younger adults were less likely to be inactive. Rural adults who were from the Midwest and South, had less than a high school education, had fair to poor health, and currently smoked were more likely to be inactive compared to their respective referent group. Conclusions: The high prevalence of obesity and inactive lifestyles among rural populations call for research into effective rural interventions.

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