Barriers to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in the Mississippi Delta


rural health
physical activity
Mississippi Delta

How to Cite

Halfacre, K., Buys, D. R., Holmes, M. E., King, E. ., & Roach, J. (2022). Barriers to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in the Mississippi Delta. Journal of Healthy Eating and Active Living, 2(1), 32–44.


Rural regions in the United States are home to approximately 15-20% of the country’s population. These regions are often characterized by low access to medical care and high rates of disease and death. The literature has detailed the heterogeneous nature of rural health disparities, calling for research detailing regional factors that influence individual-level risk factors such as diet and physical activity. The Mississippi Delta population is largely characterized by high obesity rates, poor diet, and low levels of physical activity. This study presents the most detailed observations of the community-level barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity within Mississippi Delta communities, contextualizing the findings of a survey of 352 individuals across 25 communities to provide implications and direction for future activities aimed at reducing obesity in the Mississippi Delta. This study observed a high prevalence of overweight (22.9%) and obese (62.1%) body mass index classifications. Chi-square analyses revealed significant relationships between body mass index, age, and health conditions. Community food and physical activity environments and rural characteristics were largely implicated as barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity. This article will detail the individual and community-level barriers as they were observed among this sample of Mississippi Delta residents. Next steps involve using qualitative research techniques to guide the development of programmatic strategies for reducing obesity through diet and physical activity in these communities and other rural regions in the United States.


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Copyright (c) 2022 Katharine Halfacre, PhD, David R. Buys, PhD, Megan E. Holmes, PhD, Erin King, Jacinda Roach, PhD