Burden of obesity in the rural adult population of America


Internal Medicine, Advocate Christ Medical Center


There is an epidemic of obesity in adults in rural America. It is estimated that about 19% of the population resides in rural areas, which encompasses 97% of America's total landmass. Although rural America makes up a fraction of America's total population, it has been estimated that the prevalence of obesity is approximately 6.2 times higher than in urban America. This illustrates an apparent disparity that exists between the rural population and urban populations that needs to be examined. The prevalence of obesity, especially in rural America, is a growing concern in the medical community in recent years. Obesity has been identified as a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, which are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US. To better understand the disparity in the prevalence of adult obesity between rural and urban America, researchers have identified risk factors that are associated with the high incidence and prevalence of obesity in the rural American adult population. Low income and lack of physical activity have been identified as factors that predispose rural Americans to increased risk of obesity, arguing that low-income Americans may not have access to the resources available to assist them in weight reduction. With rural Americans being at an income disadvantage, it creates a risk for obesity, which further predisposes them to chronic diseases such as hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), diabetes, and coronary artery disease. As obesity continues to rise among the American population, the burden on the rural population is incredibly evident. Despite ongoing efforts by the US government and strategies implemented by the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention, there is still much to be done to tackle the epidemic. With an existing strategy in place, such as the 12 Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention (COCOMO) strategies to fight obesity with physical activity, Americans are a step closer to conquering this epidemic. However, until other disparities such as income are addressed, rural Americans may continue to be severely impacted by the rising incidence of obesity and subsequent higher mortality rates from associated diseases.

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