Statewide Iowa — Technology is constantly changing the face of farming in Iowa, but it’s also changing the bodies of farmers themselves, perhaps not for the better. Just as machinery, computers and fast-food have influenced the general population, they’ve also influenced farmers. A health study of the region’s farmers is being launched by researcher Paula Schulz at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
We picture farmers as lifting hay bales and working with cattle, Schulz says, but so much of farming is automated today that farmers don’t do as much physical work. A pilot study is underway to gauge heart disease risk in farmers.
In the one-year study, researchers will collect information about physical activity and dietary habits, quality of life and cardiovascular disease. Participants will wear a device that measures activity during peak farming season and during off season. Researchers hope the information can be used to identify strategies that could be tailored to the farming lifestyle to reduce heart disease risk.