Feasting plus sloth fathers obesity in US hinterland

December 20th, 2008 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 20 (IANS) Feasting at buffets and cafeterias plus lack of activity is the cause for obesity in the US hinterland, a new study shows. “It’s not that people don’t want to get physical activity or eat healthy foods, but we’ve made it difficult in many communities,” said Ross Brownson, study co-author and professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

“People in small towns spend a great deal of time in cars, and they also may not have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their markets,” he added.

Thirty percent of US adults are obese, which increases their risk for health conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Rural adults have higher levels of obesity and are less active in their leisure time than urban and suburban US adults, said Brownson, faculty scholar of Washington University’s Institute for Public Health and a professor at the School of Medicine.

From July to September 2005, 1,258 randomly selected adults in 12 rural communities in Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee completed phone surveys about their eating habits and physical activity. Eligible households were within two miles of a community walking trail.

Researchers asked about their access to produce and low-fat foods, frequency and location of food shopping and frequency and location of restaurant dining. They also were asked how they perceived their community for physical activity, said a Washington release authored by Diane Duke Williams.

The findings revealed that respondents who ate out often, especially at buffets, cafeterias and fast food restaurants, were more likely to be obese. Those with a high school education or less reported limited access to fruits and vegetables and were more likely to shop at convenience stores.

Additionally, obese participants tended to have less education and lower annual incomes than normal weight respondents. They also were more likely to view their community as unpleasant for physical activity, such as lacking sidewalks for walking or biking or to have few places to be active.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings are published in the December issue of Preventive Medicine.

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