Tyler Evert, Associated Press
This Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 photo shows Delbarton, West Virginia. The state eclipses most others in the percentage of people affected by diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

SALT LAKE CITY — Weight gain by those in rural areas worldwide is to blame for a worldwide increase in obesity, according to a new study.

The Verge reports that the study, which comes from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, shows that more than 55 percent of the global increase in body mass index from 1985 to 2017 came from rural populations, rather than urban regions.

The study also notes that emerging economies in Latin America and the Middle East show the most increase in obesity.

Here are some other notable points:

  • 112 million adults and findings from over 2,000 other studies were analyzed for this report.
  • The study’s findings contradict the belief that rural areas are healthier. Majid Ezzati, a co-author on the study, said that innovations and industrialization cause people to work less.
  • People living in cities have more incentive to be physically active. Easier access to gyms and sports facilities — as well as walking — helps urban residents stay healthy.
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  • Rural areas also have less access to health care, which can result in higher rates of preventable deaths.

Just because lower-income countries show the biggest increase in obesity doesn’t mean the United States is off the hook. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says rural areas in the U.S. still show higher BMI and rates of obesity.

Health education is less available to rural areas, which could cause people to care less about their bodies, according to Sherry Pagoto, a health professor at the University of Connecticut.