Rural-Urban Disparities in Body Composition and Contributing Health Behaviors: An Atlantic PATH Study

Authors: Forbes, C., Yu, Z.M., Cui, Y., DeClercq, V., Dummer, T.J.B., Grandy, S., Keats, M., Parker, L., Sweeney, E., Keats, M. (2019)



To describe and compare the sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics of urban and rural residents in Atlantic Canada.


Cross-sectional analyses of baseline data from the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health cohort were conducted. Specifically, 17,054 adults (35-69 years) who provided sociodemographic characteristics, measures of obesity, and a record of chronic disease and health behaviors were included in the analyses. Multiple linear regression and logistic regression models were used to calculate the multivariable-adjusted beta coefficients (β), odds ratios (OR), and related 95% confidence intervals (CI).


After adjusting for age, sex, and province, when compared to urban participants, rural residents were significantly more likely to: be classified as very active (OR: 1.19, CI: 1.11-1.27), be obese (OR: 1.13, 1.05-1.21), to present with abdominal obesity (OR: 1.08, CI: 1.01-1.15), and have a higher body fat percentage (β: 0.40, CI: 0.12-0.68) and fat mass index (β: 0.32, CI: 0.19-0.46). Rural residents were significantly less likely to be regular or habitual drinkers (OR: 0.83, CI: 0.78-0.89). Significant differences remained after further adjustment for confounding sociodemographic, lifestyle, and health characteristics. No significant differences in smoking behavior, fruit and vegetable intake, multimorbidity, or waist circumference were found.


As expected, obesity prevalence was higher in rural Atlantic Canadians. In contrast to much of the existing literature, we found that rural participants were more likely to report higher levels of total physical activity and lower alcohol consumption. Findings suggest that novel obesity prevention strategies may be needed for rural populations.

Linkhttps://doi: 10.1111/jrh.12363