A National Study of Obesity Prevalence and Trends by Type of Rural County

J Rural Health. Spring 2005;21(2):140-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2005.tb00074.x.

Abstract

Context: Obesity is epidemic in the United States, but information on this trend by type of rural locale is limited.

Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of and recent trends in obesity among US adults residing in rural locations.

Methods: Analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for the years 1994-1996 (n = 342,055) and 2000-2001 (n = 385,384). The main outcome measure was obesity (body mass index [BMI] > or = 30), as determined by calculating BMI from respondents' self-reported height and weight.

Results: In 2000-2001, the prevalence of obesity was 23.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 22.6%-23.4%) for rural adults and 20.5% (95% CI 20.2%-20.7%) for their urban counterparts, representing increases of 4.8% (95% CI 4.2%-5.3%) and 5.5% (95% CI 5.1%-5.9%), respectively, since 1994-1996. The highest obesity prevalence occurred in rural counties in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas; obesity prevalence increased for rural residents in all states but Florida over the study period. African Americans had the highest obesity prevalence of any group, up to 31.4% (95% CI 29.1%-33.6) in rural counties adjacent to urban counties. The largest difference in obesity prevalence between those with a college education compared with those without a high school diploma occurred in urban areas (18.4% [95% CI 17.9%-18.9%] vs 23.5% [95% CI 22.5%-24.5%], respectively); the smallest difference occurred in small, remote rural counties (20.3% [95% CI 18.7%-21.9%] versus 22.3% [95% CI 20.7%-24.0%], respectively).

Conclusions: The prevalence of obesity is higher in rural counties than in urban counties; obesity affects some residents of rural counties disproportionately.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Demography
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Health / trends*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Health / trends*