Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 484–493 | Cite as

Built Environments and Active Living in Rural and Remote Areas: a Review of the Literature

  • Anush Yousefian Hansen
  • M. Renée Umstattd Meyer
  • Jennifer D. Lenardson
  • David Hartley
Economy and Environment (I Janssen, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Economy and Environment


Rural children and adults are more likely to have obesity than their urban counterparts even after adjustment for individual-level behaviors, suggesting that rural environments may promote obesity. The rural built environment may be an important area of research that can help us understand rural–urban disparities in obesity. The purpose of this review is to summarize the rural built environment and active living literature, and to address key issues, gaps, and observations in the field. A literature review was conducted in spring 2015 to identify research published from 2000 to 2015. Our review suggests that limited active living built environments in rural communities and unique rural barriers to physical activity may contribute to a higher prevalence of obesity compared to urban populations. More empirical research is needed to build the evidence-base for the association between rural built environments, active living, and obesity. School- and community-based policies that expand active living opportunities in rural areas should also be closely examined.


Obesity Overweight Physical activity Exercise Transportation Synthesis 



The authors would like to thank the staff at Active Living Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for supporting our formative research on active living and the rural built environment.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Anush Yousefian Hansen, M. Renée Umstattd Meyer, Jennifer D. Lenardson, and David Hartley declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anush Yousefian Hansen
    • 1
  • M. Renée Umstattd Meyer
    • 2
  • Jennifer D. Lenardson
    • 3
  • David Hartley
    • 4
  1. 1.Maine Rural Health Research CenterUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Robbins College of Health and Human SciencesBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  3. 3.Maine Rural Health Research CenterUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA
  4. 4.Maine Rural Health Research CenterUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA

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