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Out of reach? Rural elders have highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease
Date:6/14/2011

Despite living in the countryside, where open space is plentiful and there is often significant agricultural production, California's more than half a million rural elders are far more likely to be overweight or obese, physically inactive and food insecure than their suburban counterparts, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

All three conditions are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and repeated falls conditions also more prevalent among rural elders.

Approximately 710,000 Californians aged 65 and over live in the countryside almost one-fifth of all older adults in the state. Yet rural elders experience unique challenges to healthy living, including a lack of sidewalks, street lights, transportation services, access to healthy food outlets, parks, exercise facilities and health care sites. California's rural areas are also challenged by a dearth of physicians and other primary care providers, compelling many seniors to travel long distances to seek care.

"The countryside can have an isolating effect," said Steven P. Wallace, the center's associate director and a co-author of the policy brief, "The Health Status and Unique Health Challenges of Rural Older Adults in California." "When even a trip to the grocery store is a significant drive, seniors can become trapped in their houses."

Using data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, center researchers found:

  • Rural older adults are more likely to be overweight and obese
  • Older adults in rural areas are more often overweight or obese (61.3 percent) than their urban (57.3 percent) and suburban (54.0 percent) counterparts.
  • Rural older adults do not get enough exercise
  • One in five rural elders do not participate in either moderate or vigorous physical activity in their leisure time.
  • Rural and urban older adults are more likely to be food insecure
  • One in five low-inc
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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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