The UF Weight Management Lab is currently working on a studying evaluating the effectiveness of long-term weight management programs geared to people living in rural areas, the Rural Lifestyle Eating and Activity Program (Rural LEAP).
Why use rural populations?
Compared to urban areas, serious health disparities exist in rural areas where there are higher rates of poverty, more residents without health insurance, a greater percentage of people with chronic disease, and fewer health professionals to treat them. About 49 million people, or 17 percent of the country’s population, live in rural areas, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
We are offering a weight-loss program at UF/IFAS County Extension Offices in rural counties in north Florida. In addition to measuring weight loss, we will also evaluate how well the lifestyle intervention program affects the participants’ blood pressure, lipid profiles and blood sugar levels – all important indicators of overall health.
Compared to their urban counterparts, rural populations have been slower to adopt lifestyle changes that might alter risk factors for heart disease, such as reductions in saturated fat intake, increases in physical activity and smoking cessation. Individuals living in rural areas traditionally have consumed high-fat, high-calorie diets that were offset to some extent by vigorous physical labor necessary for farming, logging, and other activities. Increased mechanization of rural occupations has reduced these levels of caloric expenditure, contributing to higher rates of obesity in rural areas.
How can I get involved?
- If you are an adult between the ages of 21-75 living in a rural county in north central Florida, please visit our Current Projects page for more information about eligibility and screening for the Rural LEAP project.
- If you are an undergraduate interested in working in the UF Weight Management Lab, check out our Volunteer page for more information about requirements and expectations.