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Module 1: Understanding Obesity

Rural areas in the United States have higher rates of obesity than urban areas, with the rural south having the highest rates of overweight individuals. Rural communities have a unique set of factors that can contribute to higher rates of obesity. This module looks at factors contributing to obesity in rural areas, such as:

  • Environmental characteristics
  • Limited transportation options
  • Limited availability of healthy foods
  • Lack of public health funding and infrastructure
  • Barriers to access
  • Rural population characteristics

Since the makeup of rural areas is culturally, socially, economically and ethnically diverse, there is no one factor or set of factors responsible for rural obesity. For information on the factors that affect health in rural communities, see Overview of Specific Issues in a Rural Context in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

In this module: