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Report: Rural Montanans Losing the “Battle of the Bulge”


Wednesday, January 14, 2009   

Helena, MT – Living in the country in this technological world is a lot like living in the city, and that's being pointed to as one of the reasons rural Montanans are not as healthy as they used to be. A study from the Center for Rural Affairs, "Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity in Rural America," documents growing obesity rates in rural areas in Montana and across the country.

The Center's Rural Research and Analysis Program Director, Jon Bailey, says the rural lifestyle has changed, and the result is less physical labor for adults and less physical activity for kids.

"Kids have access to as much television and video games and computers as urban kids now, and that has an effect on their physical activities."

The study also points to scarce access to healthy foods in rural areas as another factor in rising obesity rates. The report suggests that communities focus on offering exercise opportunities such as trails, or safe walking and biking routes to schools.

Bailey wants people to take personal responsibility in improving health, too. He says that's important as the nation's health care system is reformed in coming years. One of the themes in the report is how curing health care system woes should include keeping people well, instead of just treating the sick.

"If we just reform how health insurance is offered, and how it's paid for, and where people can get it, then we really haven't accomplished much in the long term."

Approximately $100 billion is spent on obesity-related illness every year in the U.S., according to the study.

Read the research brief at

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