Obese children
Published on: Feb 16, 2021

The Marcellus Shale natural gas development increased income for families in several rural Pennsylvania counties. In the U.S., children in families with more income typically have lower rates of obesity. But, despite the sudden influx of income to the communities around the Marcellus Shale, rates of youth obesity remained unchanged. In a new study, Penn State Associate Professor of Sociology and Demography Molly A. Martin considers the implications of these findings for the epidemic of youth obesity in the U.S. Key findings are:

  • Children living in families with higher incomes have lower rates of youth obesity.
  • Rural areas with limited grocery options and higher food prices have higher rates of youth obesity.
  • Independent increases in income did not cause changes in youth obesity rates, even for low-income families.
  • Structural inequalities are likely the underlying cause of high rates of youth obesity in low-income, rural Pennsylvania families.


Read more in this new joint population health research brief from the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Penn State’s Population Research Institute.