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Rural living the cause of obesity?

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People living in the countryside may be more at risk of obesity than their urban-dwelling counterparts, according to new research.

Rural lifestyles could be held accountable for the staggering rise in people carrying excessive body weight, the US study showed.

Researchers at the University of Kansas examined data from the National Centre for Health Statistics to identify an obesity gap between those in the city and the countryside.

They took into account the measured height and weight of people included in the figures, adding to evidence that country living may be burdening waistlines.

Dr Christie Befort, assistant professor of preventative medicine and public health at the university's medical centre, came up with two possible causes for the trend.

One the one hand, those living in rural areas may be indulging in higher-fat diets than their city peers, as well as being isolated from resources that could otherwise help them to fend off weight gain.

For instance, rural dwellers might be more inclined to feast on homemade foods comprised of meat and desserts.

Additionally, they are more secluded from health care and lifestyle activities, such as gyms and fitness centres.

"Access is often about travel time in a rural area, but it can also be that there's no place to go - literal physical isolation," Dr Befort said.

"It's tough to get to a gym if you live outside of a town without one."

Interestingly, the research found that rural-urban obesity disparity existed primarily among those aged 20 to 39, with older age groups unaffected.

Dr Befort explained that this may be partly down to the fact that machines have taken on labour-intensive work that was previously done by people.

"Physical activity is now needed to compensate for diet and technology," she said. "That requires cultural change because rural areas typically don't have a culture of physical activity as leisure time."

Regardless of living in the city or the countryside, Britons are advised to undertake five moderate exercise sessions, lasting 30 minutes, every week. ADNFCR-858-ID-801449280-ADNFCR

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