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International Healthcare News: Rural people 'at higher risk of obesity'

People who relocate abroad to rural districts might be more likely to become obese than those who move to urban areas.

A study reported in the Journal of Rural Health and undertaken by international healthcare specialists at the University of Kansas, which used data from US participants, found the location of a person's residence could have an impact on their weight.

Scientists measured a number of factors that could lead to weight gain, including age, gender, diet, physical activity, educational attainment and race, discovering that even when these variables are held constant, countryside inhabitants have a higher rate of obesity than those who live in cities.

Assistant professor of preventative medicine and public health at the University of Kansas Dr Christie Befort suggested physical isolation and cultural diet could cause this discrepancy.

For example, the study found rural inhabitants typically eat more fat than their urban counterparts.

Furthermore, people who lived in remote regions are more likely to have difficulties travelling to medical facilities or pursuing lifestyle activities that could prevent unhealthy weight loss.

"Rural areas typically don't have a culture of physical activity as leisure time," Dr Befort said, arguing that many locations have "no place to go" for people who want to exercise or take part in other pastimes.

The discrepancy between rural and urban obesity was most pronounced among research subjects aged between 20 and 39, but not among older people.

Dr Befort claimed this could be because young people are less likely to have a "culture of physical activity at leisure time".

People with obesity could find themselves considerably more likely to have to deal with serious health problems through expatriate health insurance policies than the general public.

The UK's National Health Service notes that obese individuals are at an elevated risk of developing heart disease, type two diabetes, several types of cancer and stroke.

Obesity can also cause depression, sleep apnoea, acid reflux disease, chronic pain and muscular-skeletal problems, the healthcare experts added.

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