NRHA Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease Initiative

The Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease Initiative is the combined effort of the National Rural Health Association and Novo Nordisk to combat obesity and chronic diseases among rural populations. The initiative aims to diminish the stigmatization of rural obesity and chronic diseases by championing policies and implementing programming that improves the long-term health of rural residents. The efforts of the combined organizations center around Policy, Communications, Education, and Research, with the goal of spreading awareness and highlighting technical solutions to foster a healthier rural population. As obesity and chronic illness afflicts individuals throughout rural communities, this initiative is designed to enhance the access to quality care and bolster the public perception of the value of wellness. 


The specific purpose of the Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease Initiative is to: significantly reduce the rates of obesity in children; diminish the stigmatization around chronic diseases and obesity; expand publicly funded health coverage for individuals who suffer from obesity and chronic disease; prompt public health authorities in the public health space to disseminate and inform the public on the severity of obesity and chronic illness; and improve the public perception of the value of wellness to overall health. 


The initiative is focused on: 

  • Policy: Develop a Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease Interest Group to provide policy recommendations/analysis that target regulatory and legislative barriers.  
  • Communications: Disseminate Information about Rural Obesity and Chronic Diseases and a compendium of best practices via NRHA. 
  • Education: Integrate Dedicated Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease tracks within educational events and provide technical assistance to State Rural Health Associations. 
  • Research: Develop dedicated Rural Obesity and Chronic Disease related research and policy. The research will have explicit intent on combating stigmatization and illness.  


Resources and Information:  

NRHA Conference Sessions:
  • ‚ÄčAnnual Rural Health Conference (5/11/2022): Combatting Obesity and Chronic Disease in Rural America
  • Critical Access Hospital Conference (9/22/2022): Engaging Rural Communities to Advance Policy Solutions on Obesity

CDC Resources:
General Resources: 
The Interrupt: 108 million Americans – that's how many people are living with obesity in the US. That's the equivalent of everyone living in the four most populous states – California, Texas, Florida, and New York – combined.
It's time for a change. It's time to work together – across industries – to offer solutions that can help secure better health. That’s why we support The Interrupt.

Funding Partner: Novo Nordisk 

Novo Nordisk is a leading global health care company that's been making innovative medicines to help people with diabetes lead longer, healthier lives for more than 95 years. This heritage has given Novo Nordisk experience and capabilities that also enable them to drive change to help people defeat other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. Novo Nordisk remains steadfast in their conviction that the formula for lasting success is to stay focused, think long term and do business in a financially, socially, and environmentally responsible way. With US headquarters in New Jersey and production and research facilities in seven states, Novo Nordisk employs nearly 6,000 people throughout the United States.