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TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -
If we are what we eat, why are so many Alabamians overweight? That question worries Lindsey Yerby.
"What I'm looking for is how you start it in your peers. If you can start it with peers your age and get enough teenagers working together, you can change more people," Lindsey said.
She's one of hundreds attending the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference at the University of Alabama.
UA Rural Health Researcher Lea Yerby says there are many factors that contribute to obesity in rural areas.
"It's really issues of transportation of access to healthy foods, of having to commute to work more often in a rural community so you don't have to cook for your family and grocery store might be 20 miles away," she said.
Sprinkled among these healthcare professionals are high school students who are rural health scholars from around that state. Obesity is a weighty issue where they live.
"If obesity is hurting them, I would like to learn whenever I get older and become a doctor, help them solve their obesity problem," Rural High School Scholar Kaylee Jones said.
They'll take what they learn here into their communities back home.
"[Obesity] leads to us to have a high rate of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, the things that cause us to lose our family members and that place such a burden on our system," Lea Yerby said.
Fighting the battle of the "pudge" can lead to longer healthier lives.
"The healthier people are the happier people and you want to have a healthier community," Lindsay Yerby said.