Can Where You Live Affect Your Weight?

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults living in rural counties are more likely to be obese than adults living in urban counties. Obesity prevention is important regardless of where you live, but it may be more difficult in some areas than in others.

Obesity prevalence in rural and urban areas

The CDC report found obesity prevalence among American adults in rural counties to be 34.2 percent, whereas obesity prevalence in urban counties was 28.7 percent. This data was collected by calculating BMI from self-reported weight and height from 438,479 adults from all 50 states and Washington D.C.

The report identified a number of possible contributing factors including persistent poverty, the need for additional education about physical fitness and nutrition, limited access to healthy food stores, and fewer paved trails, parks, and outdoor recreation areas

Although the report focused on the differences in obesity prevalence in rural and urban areas, that’s not the only takeaway.

These findings are a good reminder that obesity prevention is important regardless of where you live. While urban counties reported a lower obesity prevalence than rural counties, 28.7 percent obesity prevalence is still higher than it should be.

How being overweight or obese affects your health

Those who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk than those who maintain a healthy weight for a number of health problems.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for cardiovascular disease – including coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke – type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, as well as certain cancers including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer.

Obesity can also negatively affect your mood and decrease your overall quality of life.

What you can do to maintain a healthy weight

Obesity is a global problem. The World Health Organization states that obesity has tripled worldwide since 1975. In 2016, 13% of the world’s adult population was obese. Childhood obesity is on the rise as well. Obesity is preventable, however.

Teach your children the importance of nutrition and establish healthy eating habits at a young age.

Avoid foods high in sugar, salt, and trans fats. Also avoid foods high in calories and low in nutrients, as well as highly processed foods. Choose healthier foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.

The types of food that you eat are important, but so is the amount of food that you eat. Choose healthy portion sizes.

Maintaining a healthy weight means properly balancing the calories you consume and the calories you burn. Exercise is absolutely essential to obesity prevention. Make lifestyle changes such as family walks every evening, biking to work instead of driving, parking further away from buildings, etc. Play sports and outdoor games instead of sitting indoors playing games or watching screens, and take up physically active hobbies.

Annual wellness exams can also help with obesity prevention. Talk to your primary care physician. Your doctor can help you establish a wellness plan and avoid pitfalls along the way. Schedule an appointment with a MANA doctor today.