A-20/21 Overweight and obesity among children in rural areas: The importance of culture
Aims: This paper focuses on how social inequality is associated with overweight and obesity in children. There is a lack of research with a focus on an important distinction in social inequality, namely geography. The aim of this study was to reduce this knowledge gap by looking closely at the links between rurality and overweight.
Methods: The findings in this paper are based on in-depth interviews with school nurses and teachers in rural Norway. The focus was on their experiences with and knowledge about overweight and obesity numbers in rural versus urban areas.
Results: We used Bourdieu’s terminology to address the challenges related to urban–rural differences, and found that cultural factors connected to tradition, identity and courtesy play an important role in the rural overweight and obesity discourse.
Conclusions: Actors and ‘experts’ working with overweight and obesity and national guidelines need to understand rural contexts and customs and address problems of the countryside on rural, not exclusively urban, premises. Different contexts imply different needs when it comes to reducing the inequalities between rural and urban areas regarding overweight and obesity.