Rural Americans, Less Fit and More Obese Than Urban Americans

Release Date: 



Elisha Smith, Center for Rural Affairs,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007
LYONS, NE - Rural people were once better off in terms of physical activity, nutrition and weight. However, according to a report released by the Center for Rural Affairs today, rural residents generally fare worse that their urban counterparts in regards to obesity, which is opposite to the situation that existed prior to 1980.
The Center for Rural Affairs, in collaboration with Dr. Joe Blankenau, Professor of Politics at Wayne State College, Wayne, Nebraska, has undertaken the task of evaluating crucial health care issues in rural America.  The report, "Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity in Rural America," first in a series of reports analyzes available research relating to nutrition, physical activity and obesity and their impact on the health of rural residents relative to their urban counterparts.
Crucial findings:

* Exercise - forty years ago, half of all students walked or bicycled to school, today less than 15 percent do.
* Employment - fewer rural residents are employed in rigorous occupations such as farming, forestry, and fishing.
* Availability - rural residents have limited access to healthy food choices.
* Demographics - rural residents are older, less educated and poorer than urban residents - all contributing to increased obesity.

"As the new administration and the new Congress begin to debate health care reform, they need to keep in mind that the best long-term way to reform the health care system is to help create healthier people and healthier communities," commented Jon Bailey with the Center for Rural Affairs.  
The report comes as the Center prepares to share signatures and comments gathered from an online petition ( calling on the Obama Administration to address our failing health care policies. The petition, initiated by the Center has gathered over 800 signatures.
 "Everyone has a stake in creating a healthier society and everyone has responsibility to do so. As this report shows, rural people and rural communities have significant health and wellness challenges. Public policy can help promote health and wellness, but each person, each family and each community in rural America has responsibility to create a healthier rural America," continued Bailey.
The full report is available online at:
Additional reports exploring a variety of rural health care issues - including policy issues, and how congressional reform proposals address rural health care, will soon be released in the coming weeks. As they are released these papers can be found at the Rural Health Care Reform section of the Center for Rural Affairs' website,

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