Obesity Fight Needs Non-traditional Partners

John Commins, September 19, 2012

It's already tough enough for rural healthcare providers to survive.

There are a number of reasons why. One the biggest is that rural providers generally care for a sicker, older population that includes a higher mix of Medicare, Medicaid, and indigent patients, so reimbursements tend to be smaller.

A study published in the Journal of Rural Health now shows that it's not going to get any easier. University of Florida researchers found that 40% of rural residents are obese, compared with 33% of urban residents. No pun intended, but this is huge.

Earlier studies had already shown that overweight and obesity is a bigger problem in rural areas, but those studies put the difference in the 2% to 3% range. That estimate is now doubled. With about 60 million people live in rural America , and assuming that the UF findings are valid, 24 million rural residents are obese as measured by the Body Mass Index of height and weight.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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