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Health and Medicine


Ohio's rural poverty rates are rising, affecting children's health
Distances to doctors and healthy food are big challenges in rural areas
by WKSU's LYNDSEY SCHLEY


Reporter
Lyndsey Schley
 
Poverty is rising in Ohio's rural areas.
Courtesy of Jack Pearce
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In The Region:

A new report says poverty in Ohio’s rural areas is rising and children in these areas face challenges that are different from their urban counterparts.

Sarah Biehl of the Ohio Children’s Defense Fund says many rural Ohioans are closer to fast-food restaurants than grocery stores, contributing to both obesity and food insecurity.

LISTEN: BIEHL ON RURAL FOOD

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“If you don’t have a car or driving your car is very expensive for you because you have to pay a lot more for gas to get much farther to get to those places, than access to that less nutritious, more fattening quicker food is a just an easier and better option,” Biehl says.

Biehl says there is also a shortage of parks and recreation facilities to get kids moving.

Rural children also are generally farther away from pediatricians, leading to higher costs to get healthcare. Some hospitals are paying doctors more to encourage them to move to these areas, but she says these programs need more support.

Biehl says one benefit many rural families have is land where they can grow their own healthy food, meaning programs that give them access to gardening tools could go a long way.

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