Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wonderment Wednesday: Thanksgiving and Obesity

It's Wednesday!
Let's cut to the chase folks, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we at the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center have begun wearing the only appropriate headgear for tomorrow.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holidays where there is much to be excited and unexcited for. For instance, being unexcited about that one uncle who takes a certain joy out of bringing everyone down at the dinner table. To prepare you for your uncle, let us be the buzz kill to the start of your holiday season. According to research, the average weight gain during the holiday is a little more than one pound. The problem is that we don't lose that gained weight over the year, which contributes to the obesity epidemic.

While most of you reading this are likely feeling bad for yourself and mentally preparing for the weight gain. You should feel even worse for people in rural areas. Based on these

4 Facts About Rural Obesity 

1. Rural children are heavier than urban children
According to this study published by Jihong Liu et al. in 2010, when comparing rural to urban children, rural children had higher rates of obesity than urban children. What made the rural children heavier than urban children? The major takeaway from the study was rural children were taking in more unhealthy food than their urban counterparts:
  • Younger rural children consumed more fat than urban children (62.7 v 56.9)
  • Younger rural children consumed more sweetened beverages than urban (13.5% v 7.9%)

But is it because rural children exercise less? Not really. 

2. Rural children did not exercise less than urban children 
According to the report, there was no real difference between rural and urban children in terms of exercise. Which likely means the weight difference is caused by the diet differences. However, the report did note, to the surprise of no one, 64%-74% of children (depending on age groups) spent 2+ hours in front of a TV or computer screen.

I heard it helps improve grip strength!

3. Rural adults had higher rates of obesity than urban adults
According to Tushar Trivedi et al,, this isn't just a rural children problem, because it effects rural adults as well. Rural adults had a higher rate of obesity than urban residents (35.6% v 30.4%). Similar to young children, rural adults were less likely to eat healthy food and drink more sweetened drinks. So it is just a diet problem right? Nope.

4. Rural adults reported less physical activity than their urban adults
 Unlike rural children, rural adults reported doing less physical activity than their urban counterparts. While the paper did not go into why rural adults would likely report less physical activity than urban adults a search of current research finds:
1. Not enough physical gyms/locations to exercise
2. Not enough sidewalks
3. Extreme conditions making it too cold/hot to exercise
And this too.

While all this information about rural obesity may put a cramp on you while you shove that cranberry covered stuffing down tomorrow. Look on the bright side! You've gained some excellent conversation starters at the dinner table tomorrow. 

As for preventing that 1 pound weight gain? We suggest smaller proportion sizes and finishing it off with a vigorous night of Black Friday shopping. 

In the meantime, remember to give a nice tap on that subscribe button to the very bottom or top left hand side of this page to read more about the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center. See you next week, same place, same time. Make sure to have a safe Thanksgiving!

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