Rural Obesogenic Environments Project

Creating an index to identify obesogenic communities in the US in order to make comparisons between urban and rural environments.

Rural Obesogenic Environments Project is part of the Rural health research center (RHRC), with aims to understand environmental factors related to childhood obesity. 

The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased exponentially in the past couple decades, with rural children having greater odds of obesity compared to their urban counterparts, and rural Southern and minority children at greatest risk. Environment-level factors affecting these behaviors are increasingly recognized as critical to understanding the expanding obesity crisis and urban-rural obesity disparities. Understanding how obesogenic environment elements differ between rural and urban environments and how these environmental factors subsequently affect residents’ healthy eating and physical activity behaviors is crucial for addressing risk factors for childhood obesity in rural communities.

The purposes of this project are to:

  • Develop an obesogenic environment index score for all U.S. counties and census tracts
  • Explore urban versus rural differences in obesogenic environment scores
  • Examine associations between obesogenic environments and childhood obesity overall and by level of rurality
The Rural Obesogenic Environments Project is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy as part of the Rural Health Research Grant Cooperative Agreement.

More information

For more information about the Rural Obesogenic Environments Project, feel free to contact us:

Andrew Kaczynski, PhD
University of South Carolina

Ellen Stowe, MPH
University of South Carolina

Marilyn Wende, MSPH
University of South Carolina