Rural areas in the United States have a higher prevalence of adolescent obesity than urban areas. A recent Project Healthy Schools study compared the physiological measurements and health behaviors of urban and rural students participating in PHS between 2004-2017. Based on U.S. 2012 Census data, students were classified as “urban” if their school’s location had a population
50,000 people, or “rural” if their school’s location had a population <50,000 people. Physiological measures and health behaviors were compared between groups pre and post-PHS intervention. Pre-PHS intervention, urban students had better resting and recovery heart rates and blood pressure, higher fruit consumption, and spent more time exercising vigorously than rural students. Rural students had better lipid panel measurements, lower sweetened beverage and fried snack consumption, spent more time exercising moderately, and had less screen time than urban students. Post-PHS intervention, urban students had greater improvements in lipid panel measures, fruit and fried snack consumption, and moderate exercise. Rural students had greater improvement in recovery heart rate and screen time habits. Essentially, physiological measurements that were worse at baseline saw the most improvement post-intervention in both the urban and rural populations.
Full details of the study are reported in the abstract, which was presented at the 40th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine: Purohit A, et al. Physiological Measurements and Health Behaviors of Urban and Rural Students Participating in Project Healthy Schools. Ann Behav Med. (2019) 53(Suppl 1):S283.