Physical Activity-Related Policy and Environmental Strategies to Prevention Obesity in Rural Communities: A Systematic Review of the Literature, 2002-2013

Key takeaway:

  • This study found that in rural areas, schools are the most common settings for policy and environmental interventions for physical activity.


  • Schools were the location of 18 out of the 26 interventions reviewed.
  • Twenty-two studies applied at least one physical activity strategy recommended by the CDC’s Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention (COCOMO). Of these strategies, the most commonly used were “enhance infrastructure to support walking” (n=11) and “increase opportunities for extracurricular physical activity” (n=9).
  • The most common strategy not identified by COCOMO that was used was increasing physical activity opportunities at school outside of physical education (n=8).
  • 16 interventions had at least one positive environmental change and 18 had a positive policy change. Ten studies reported successfully implementing policy and environmental strategies with positive changes in physical activity, and only four studies reported statistically significant change in physical activity. Measurement of policy and environmental changes and physical activity impacts varied across studies.


  • This research article conducted a systematic review of reporting findings from physical-activity related policy or environmental interventions in Native American communities and predominately rural states in the US or Canada. 30 articles published from 2002-2013 for 26 studies were included.


Meyer, M. R. U., Perry, C. K., Sumrall, J. C., Patterson, M. S., Walsh, S. M., Clendennen, S. C., … Valko, C. (2016). Physical Activity – Related Policy and Environmental Strategies to Prevent Obesity in Rural Communities: A Systematic Review of the Literature, 2002 – 2013. Preventing Chronic Disease 13, 1–24.

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