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Environmental Factors Leads to Obesity in Rural Communities

y linked to obesity. Those who were both obese and inactive were more likely to be influenced by these community characteristics than those who were simply obese, the study found.

“Further distance to the closest recreational facility increased the likelihood of being obese,” Boehmer says. “In particular, obese persons were more likely to perceive no walking or biking trail within a 10-minute walk from home when compared with other types of recreational facilities.”

Nearly half of the participants reported lack of sidewalks on most streets and stated they felt unsafe from traffic while walking or biking. Those who expressed concerns about traffic safety also were more likely to be obese, the study found.

“Promoting and enhancing existing trails or adding nearby trails could be a useful intervention in rural communities,” Boehmer says. “They may be a more economical alternative than sidewalks in making it safer for rural residents to be physically active, particularly in areas with winding or narrow roads.”

Her research validates the importance of community leaders, researchers and practitioners from the fields of public health, urban planning and transportation collaborating to design communities that encourage a healthy lifestyle, she adds.

About a quarter of the population in the South and Midwest live in rural towns. Obesity and a more sedentary lifestyle are more common in rural communities than in large metropolitan areas and suburban areas, previous research has found.

(Sourc: Newswise)
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