- FOCUS ON REGIONS
- ACTIVIST IMAGES
Written by The Informed Aussie
Published on Friday, September 14th, 2012
A new study published in the Journal of Rural Health by researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Centre has concluded that where people live can determine if they are at risk of becoming obese.
The study analysed various statistics accumulated by the National Centre for Health Statistics in the United States of America and concluded that people living in rural communities of America are more likely to be obese than people who live in urban environments.
The three main factors that the researchers discovered to be influential in the discrepancy between obese people living in rural and urban communities are diet, limited access to adequate healthcare and lifestyle activates.
The age bracket where the discrepancy in obesity was most prominent was within the 20 – 40-year-old age bracket. Interestingly though, there was no statistical difference between average weights of older people.
The three core determinants outlined above that differentiated people living in rural and urban communities that cause obesity are in reality a common trait that people suffering from obesity tend to have in common.
So could the problem of obesity for people living in rural communities be due to the current state of the economy in the United States? On average, the unemployment rate in rural communities is around 8.4% (July 2012) as compared to the unemployment rate in non-rural communities of 8%.
The negative effects of high unemployment in rural communities can be attributed to an increase in depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, low subjective well-being and poor self-esteem.
Another potential consequence of the high unemployment rate in rural communities could be attributed to a change in circadian rhythms (Sleep wake cycle).
New research by Dr Cathy Wyse from the University of Aberdeen has discovered that there is a direct link between sudden changes in sleep wake cycles and obesity (NewsRx Health & Science Sep 16, 2012).
People working in rural communities ordinarily have more predictable sleep wake cycles. When routine employment is broken, the sudden change in a person’s sleep wake cycle could be a contributing factor of developing obesity.
THE good news is that awareness of the obesity epidemic is growing. In fact, a recent article published in Health Communication (Volume 27, Issue 7, 2012) found that media coverage of obesity on prime time news between 1995–1999 and 2005–2009 increased significantly between the two-time periods.
This research can also be validated by the number of articles generated by Google News on the topic of obesity.
A Google News search for the keyword Obesity between 1995–1999 generated 4,790 results. However a Google News search for the keyword Obesity between 2005–2009 generated an astonishing 44,500 results.
Globally, the obesity epidemic is prevalent throughout the western world. In fact, in 2008 over 500 million people were considered to be obese. Although the obesity epidemic is preventable, for someone suffering from obesity, there is no easy way to lose the weight.
So is the increase in the consumption of processed foods in rural communities a contributing factor of obesity?
In 2010, Americans consumed an unbelievable 31% more processed food than fresh organic food, and even more alarming is that they consume more packaged food per person than nearly all other countries.
Ultimately, the issue of obesity will not be a short-term pandemic, but rather an issue that will remain prevalent for many years.
There are many people who are dependent on processed, sugar laden foods and have forgotten the importance of eating a balanced diet.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this problem.