Rural-Urban Differences in Baseline Dietary Intake and Physical Activity Levels of Adolescents.
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Differences in dietary intake and physical activity may explain the higher prevalence of obesity among adolescents living in rural versus urban settings. The objective of this cross-sectional secondary analysis was to compare baseline dietary intake and physical activity of adolescents by rurality.We analyzed data on 940 adolescents who participated in ACTION PAC (Adolescents Committed to Improvement of Nutrition and Physical Activity), an obesity prevention and management intervention trial conducted from 2014 through 2017 in 8 public high schools in the southwestern United States. Dietary intake was assessed with the Block Food Screener, and participants completed an exercise log and wore an accelerometer to provide data on physical activity. We compared data by rural-urban commuting area (RUCA) codes and log population density by using multilevel models, with students nested within zip code and repeated measures for accelerometer analysis.After adjusting for socioeconomic status and ethnicity, accelerometer data indicated that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was 8.17 min/d (P = .02) higher and sedentary time was 20.42 min/d (P = .02) lower in moderately urban areas than in the urban reference area. Each 1-unit increase in log population density was associated with higher reported intake of whole grains (0.02 ounce equivalents, P = .03), potatoes (0.01 cup equivalents, P = .02), and added sugar (0.37 tsp, P = .02) after adjusting for socioeconomic status and ethnicity.Differences in reported dietary intake and physical activity level by measures of rurality were small and inconsistent in direction to explain the disparities observed in rural versus urban areas.