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U of A Researchers Link Obesity to Community Characteristics

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – A new study by University of Arkansas researchers shows that obesity and community demographics go hand in hand.

Researchers say that the 70 percent of adults in the U.S. that meet the definition of obese are not randomly distributed across the country, but are concentrated in certain areas with common social and demographic factors.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, a University Professor of sociology at the University of Arkansas, led a research team that produced the report, published in March by the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practices.

Our results indicate a clear connection between obesity prevalence, income inequality, and the racial and ethnic population composition across census tracts in the 500 largest U.S. cities,” the report states.

They found a connection between obesity levels and sociodemographic and economic characteristics such as race, income inequality, education level, and age and value of housing.

As the gap between rich and poor increases, so does this growing disadvantage of health and well being for low-income, predominately minority populations,” the report states.

The research team combined data from the U.S. Census with a detailed study on behavioral risk factors to study obesity patterns in the 500 largest U.S. cities at the census-tract level.

Other studies of obesity typically look at regional, state or county patterns, but none have focused on areas as small as census tracts, which range in population from just 50 people to more than 28,000 in this study.

What this data provided was the ability to map chronic disease as it relates to where people live,” said Fitzpatrick. “These two big data groups – chronic health disease data and structural place data – have not been combined in this way at this level until now.”


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