Unhealthy Lifestyle Behaviors Among Minority Group Members: A National Rural and Urban Study of Obesity


Background: Obesity is on the rise in the United States and has been implicated in serious chronic health problems. Obesity is very costly in terms of medical spending and lost productivity. Aim: To estimate the prevalence of and recent trends in obesity among U.S. adults residing in rural and urban locations.
Methods: A telephone survey of adults aged 18 years and older residing in states participating in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 1994-1996 and 2000-2001. The main outcome measure for the study was obesity, defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater, based on self-report.
Results: In 2000-2001, the prevalence of obesity was 23.0% for rural adults and 20.5% for their urban counterparts, increases of 4.8% and 5.5%, respectively, since 1994-1996. The highest obesity prevalence occurred in rural counties of Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. Only Rhode Island and Colorado had rural counties that met the HealthyPeople 2010 goal of a maximum of 15% obese for adults.
Conclusions: Despite recent attention to the prevalence of obesity, obesity rates continue to rise across the United States and differentially affect inhabitants of rural and urban areas. Funded by HRSA’s ORHP.