Obesity Epidemic Is Led More By Rural Than Urban Populations

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Obesity Epidemic Is Led More By Rural Than Urban Populations

As the rate of obesity around the world has climbed steadily for decades, public health efforts to combat it have largely focused on people in cities. With growing numbers of people living in cities, the assumption by public health officials was that urbanization — with its sedentary lifestyle and easy access to highly processed foods — was driving much of the weight gain.

But a growing body of research suggests that the bigger problem is in rural areas.

On Wednesday, a consortium of researchers released the most comprehensive study to date on regional obesity rates, showing that the global rise in obesity in the past three decades has been driven more by unhealthy weight gain in rural areas than urban ones. The study — a massive collaboration by more than 1,000 researchers, drawing on more than 2,000 studies of 200 countries — found that more than 55 percent of the global increase in body mass index in the past 30 years has come from rural populations. The trend was even sharper in low- and middle-income countries, with more than 80 percent of the worsening BMI driven by rural populations.

Read more from The Washington Post.