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J Rural Health. 2008 Fall;24(4):407-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2008.00188.x.

Urban-rural differences in overweight status and physical inactivity among US children aged 10-17 years.

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1
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. jliu@gwm.sc.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Few studies have examined the prevalence of overweight status and physical inactivity among children and adolescents living in rural America.

PURPOSE:

We examined urban and rural differences in the prevalence of overweight status and physical inactivity among US children.

METHODS:

Data were drawn from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health, restricted to children aged 10-17 (unweighted N = 47,757). Overweight status was defined as the gender- and age-specific body mass index (BMI) values at or above the 95th percentile. Physical inactivity was defined using parentally reported moderate-to-vigorous intensity leisure-time physical activity lasting for at least 20 minutes/d on less than three days in the past week. The 2003 Urban Influence Codes were used to define rurality. Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine urban/rural differences in overweight status and physical inactivity after adjusting for potential confounders.

FINDINGS:

Overweight status was more prevalent among rural (16.5%) than urban children (14.3%). After adjusting for covariates including physical activity, rural children had higher odds of being overweight than urban children (OR: 1.13; 95% CI: 1.01-1.25). Minorities, children from families with lower socioeconomic status, and children living in the South experienced higher odds of being overweight. More urban children (29.1%) were physically inactive than rural children (25.2%) and this pattern remained after adjusting for covariates (OR: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.73-0.86).

CONCLUSIONS:

The higher prevalence of overweight among rural children, despite modestly higher physical activity levels, calls for further research into effective intervention programs specifically tailored for rural children.

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