Rural Obesity on the Rise

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

For years dieticians and researchers believed that children in rural areas had the upper hand when it came to obesity. After all, many children in rural areas grow up on farms where there are more chores to be done.

Edmonson County Middle School Principal, Ricky Houchin says: "Years ago when we were in Middle School High School a lot of the young men worked on farms hauling hay, small bales of hay. And that's how a lot of people got their spending money."

But times are changing and that's one reason children in rural areas are now becoming obese at higher rates than children in urban areas. Researchers also believe that technology is partially to blame for students gaining weight.

Houchin says: "As far as physical activities now, you have boys and girls who instead of seeing them outside whether it be playing or working, they are at the computer with a big soft drink and a pizza right beside them, and that's their workout so to speak."

In a survey by the Rural Assistance Center one-third of Kentucky children in grades three through five were found overweight.

Edmonson County Physical Education Teacher, Kyle Pierce says: "We have a good mix. I just did a count the other day. We have 123 kids in the 7th grade and we have about 10 I would label obese."

Kentucky is just one of the rural areas shown to have high obesity rates in children. In North Carolina the odds of being obese were 50 percent higher for rural children. And in West Virginia 40 percent of fifth graders were overweight.

Researchers say children will have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents unless their eating and exercise patterns change.


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