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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 148-157

Prevalence of obesity and elevated body mass index along a progression of rurality: A cross-sectional study – The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Geriatric Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada
2 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada
3 Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
4 Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
5 Department of Psychology, Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Correspondence Address:
MD, MPH, CCFP, FRCPC Philip St. John
Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Geriatric Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Manitoba
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjrm.cjrm_55_21

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Introduction: Obesity is an important public health concern, and large studies of rural–urban differences in prevalence of obesity are lacking. Our purpose is to compare body mass index (BMI) and obesity in Canada using an expanded definition of rurality. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of self-reported BMI across diverse communities of Canadians aged 45–85 years was conducted using data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), a national sample representative of community-dwelling residents. Rurality was identified in the CLSA based on residential postal codes, which were divided into 4 categories: urban, peri-urban, mixed and rural. Logistic regression models were constructed to calculate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) between obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2 from self-reported weight and height) and rurality, adjusting for age, sex, province, marital status, number of residents in household and household income. Results: Twenty-one thousand one hundred and twenty-six Canadian residents aged 45–85 years, surveyed during 2010–2015, were included. 26.8% were obese. Obesity was less prevalent amongst urban (25.2%) than rural (30.3%, P < 0.0001), mixed (28.7%, P < 0.0001) or peri-urban communities (28.1%, P < 0.0001). When compared to urban areas, the aOR (95% CI) for obesity was 1.09 (1.00–1.20) in rural regions and 1.20 (1.08–1.35) in peri-urban settings. In areas of mixed urban and rural residence, the aOR was 1.12 (0.99–1.27). Conclusion: One in four Canadian adults were obese. Living in a non-urban setting is an independent risk factor for obesity. Rural–urban health disparities could underlie rural–urban differences, but further research is needed.

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