Rural residents report high rates of obesity, physical inactivity, and poor eating habits. The objectives of this study were to (1) use the collective impact model to guide efforts to elicit community members’ perceptions of county-specific factors influencing high obesity rates; (2) determine the association between utilization of food retail venues and concern about obesity and healthy eating; and (3) determine community members’ utilization of physical activity infrastructure and concern about physical inactivity.Methods
The study was conducted in 6 rural counties in Kentucky with adult obesity prevalence rates >40%. Community stakeholders met to assess counties’ needs and assets in implementing interventions to reduce obesity in their communities. A random-digit dial survey (n = 756) also was conducted to examine awareness and availability of community resources for healthy eating and physical activity.Findings
Stakeholders identified lack of access to fruits and vegetables and poor physical activity infrastructure as contributors to obesity. Reporting moderate and serious concern about obesity and healthy eating was associated with higher odds of shopping at a supercenter compared with those expressing little concern. Reported access to information about physical activity opportunities was associated with higher odds of reporting the availability of safe places for physical activity, sidewalks, and trails compared with those who reported that information was difficult to obtain.Conclusions
This study elicits community-identified barriers to healthy behaviors and provides foundational data to inform future place-based obesity reduction interventions.