That's not the only reason that people with less money in the US often are less active and too heavy, but it appears to be a key factor, researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said. The long-term consequences are poorer health and shorter lives.

In the study of some 20,000 U.S. teens, the researchers explored whether resources available for physical activity were distributed relatively equally across all segments of the population, said Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen, assistant professor of nutrition. They especially wanted to learn whether minority and low-income groups – in which obesity levels are high and exercise levels low – had access to such resources to about the same degree as people in richer communities.

"We expected to find that private, fee facilities would be more common in more affluent areas, but the extent and magnitude of the lack of access in poorer communities was very surprising," Gordon-Larsen said. "Even the types of facilities we think of as most equitably allocated, like YMCAs, public parks and youth organizations, were significantly less common in poorer areas."

The team extended its research to examine the impact of facilities on behavior. "We found that each facility in the adolescents' communities increased the likelihood that they would meet physical activity recommendations and reduced their likelihood of being overweight," Gordon-Larsen said. "Larger numbers of facilities had a greater impact on increasing exercise and reducing overweight."

The findings underscore the major need for investment in physical activity facilities and resources, particularly in less advantaged and minority communities, Gordon-Larsen said.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill