Document Type


Date of Original Version



Purpose: Weight loss is advantageous for individuals with obesity and arthritis. Therefore, this study was conducted to determine if there are differences by rural-urban status among older adults with these conditions who reported being advised by a health care provider to lose weight for arthritis or to ameliorate arthritis symptoms. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. Respondents reported if they had been diagnosed with arthritis and if they received a provider weight loss recommendation (WLR). The analytic sample was limited to older adults aged 60–79 living in the five states that administered the examined BRFSS arthritis module who had body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2 and reported having arthritis (n = 2920). The respondent’s county of residence was linked to the corresponding county-level population density from the US Decennial Census to determine rural-urban status. A generalized linear model examined the association between receipt of a WLR and population density, controlling for demographics. Results: The sample was 83.6% white, 57.8% female, and 63.2% received a WLR. Respondents from more urban counties were more likely to receive a WLR (p value for trend <0.001). Additionally, older respondents, men, individuals with less than a high school education, and whites had a decreased likelihood of receiving a WLR. Conclusions: The analysis identified notable rural-urban differences with respondents in more urban counties being more likely to receive a WLR. Furthermore, there were differences in those who received a WLR by age, sex, and education. Reasons for these differences should be explored.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Christie L. Ward-Ritacco and Deborah Riebe are from the Department of Kinesiology.

Steven A. Cohen and Mary L. Greaney are from the Department of Health Studies.