Don’t want to be obese? Try moving to the city.

“Rural living could be an obesity risk factor.”

People living in the country have about a 19% greater chance of being obese than city-dwellers.

That was the headline of a 9-14-12 article in the Los Angeles Times. Here we go again—talking about risk factors—more “confusion over clarity.”

In a previous blog, I wrote about the fact that there are now 12,000 named diseases in the United States. And with ten risk factors for each, all we have to do is manage 120,000 risk factors in order to be healthy.

It is clear that this never-ending focus on risk factors is not working. Obesity, diabetes, and the cost of health care continue to go up every year. And why is that? To put it simply, we’re eating the wrong food—in the country and in the city.

Let’s first take a look at the data from the article: “About 70 million Americans, or 23% of the population, live in rural areas. The researchers found that 39.6% of them are obese, while 33.4% of urban residents were obese. Including overweight people as well, the comparative totals were 70.8% and 67.1%, the study said.”

The factors at work could be the “cultural diet” of rural America, as well as the isolation that often exists, said the lead researcher, Christie Befort, assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

That diet includes “rich, homemade foods,” with lots of meat and desserts, she said. Rural Americans typically consume more fats than their urban counterparts, the study found.

Another factor could be the increased mechanization of farm work, Befort said. Older generations showed less disparity in weight than younger ones – older farmers would have put in more manual labor, she said.

Consecutive Daily Blogs (Numerals courtesy of the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum)

To me, this article was a joke—just another example of the steady stream of confusing articles about our food and our health. It’s time to get real simple and clear up all the confusion. How much simpler can you get than two words? WHOLE PLANTS!

The Bottom Line. Whether you live in the city or the country and whether you get a lot of exercise or you’re sedentary—if you want to avoid obesity, you need to start by eating the right food. That’s the food that nature intended for us to eat—whole, plant-based foods, still in nature’s package. This handy kit will get you started.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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5 Responses to Don’t want to be obese? Try moving to the city.

  1. Mitzi says:

    I have pictures of my rural ancestors going back several generations. Nobody was overweight until one of my great-grandmothers lived into the 1950s. Nobody was obese until my one of my grandmothers reached “5×5” (5 ft tall, 5 ft around) status in the 1980s. In the rural south, meat was mostly a flavoring for vegetarian dishes until recent decades. The war on poverty and cheap mechanized agriculture changed that, and devastated out dietary landscape. Now we lead the country in obesity, strokes, diabetes, etc. It isn’t about rural vs. urban. The stats aren’t even that far apart. It’s about the diet.

  2. Jim and all:
    re the WSJ article Vegan — Pro vs Con — that Dr. Campbell gave Pro. Here is food industries support of the Con person:

    Ian Welch replied:
    Dr. Nancy Rodriquez funding provided by:
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 2006-2008. $60,000. Role of beef-based diet in modulating skeletal muscle protein turnover and intracellular signaling events during acute calorie deprivation. (Predoctoral Fellowship Award to Lisa Vislocky).
    Dairy Management, Inc. 2007-2009. $153,013. Milk’s impact on protein turnover-specific intracellular signaling proteins in human skeletal muscle during recovery from endurance exercise.
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 2005-2007. $149,946. The role of beef in reduced calorie diets: mechanisms for regulation of skeletal muscle protein metabolism.
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 2006-2008. $60,000. Role of beef-based diet in modulating skeletal muscle protein turnover and intracellular signaling events during acute calorie deprivation.
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 2005-2007. $149,946. Mechanisms for regulation of skeletal muscle protein metabolism.
    American Egg Board. 2001-2002. $54,400. Relationship between protein source, exercise training, and protein utilization in healthy men and women.
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 1999-2001. $144,537. Effects of increasing protein intake on protein utilization in endurance athletes.
    Dairy Management Inc. 1996-1997. $53,882. Milk-based supplementation throughout endurance exercise: Effects on protein utilization.

    That Connecticut’er PhD Dr. Nancy Rodriguez should be ashamed of herself. Please apply the truthful education to Email:

  3. Sal Liggieri says:


    And it doesn’t matter what part of the world you are talking about urban or rural.

    I just got back from a vacation in London and northern and southern Ireland.

    I saw just as many fat, obese, overweight people as I see in New York. The ten days I spent in these countries food wise was a disaster for me. Trying to get a vegan meal was impossible even in a Chinese restaurant. They couldn’t understand my New York dialect or they didn’t care, knowing I was a tourist. Ireland was especially bad.

    Let me talk about the flight, it was upper class on Virgin Atlantic both ways and the food was just as bad even though I requested a vegan meal.

    I did have a few conversations about my food preferences and when I said that olive oil was a junk food, they though I was nuts. They insisted that olive oil was a health food, it had healthy fats.

    Jim, we have a long way to go to see any appreciable change in the way the world eats. From my observations it will never happen. It must be a world truism: People love their meat, dairy, especially cheese, and processed junk . . . olive oil.
    The national dish in these two countries is fish and chips, a far cry from rice and beans.

    Preach on my friend, preach on . . . no one is listening!

    Sal Liggieri

    P.S. My obese, sick, brother-in-law, who attended the McDougall 10 day program in California with me . . . guess what he ate for ten days on this trip . . . hamburger and coke, twice a day, a real believer of the vegan life style.

  4. barbaraH says:

    Yesterday as I was channel surfing I saw that on NBC news they were going to talk about “the hidden risk factor that’s making America’s children obese” – and they showed a plastic bottle labeled BPA. How do they report crap like this with straight faces, I always wonder.

    • Linda201 says:

      I thought the same thing Barbara. It’s the BPA in the can lining that is making kids fat, not the soda in the can? So, apparently, soda in glass bottles won’t make kids fat? It’s ridiculous.

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