Commuters who walk, cycle or take transit likelier to shed some extra flab

Washington, May 8 (ANI): A new study has suggested that switching from driving to work to using public transport, walking, or cycling might help commuters shed weight within a couple of years.

Given that car use is high, the findings strengthen the case for incentivising walking or cycling to boost population health, suggest the researchers, who base their findings on the responses of 4000 people to three waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) in 2004-5, 2005-6, and 2006-7.

The BHPS is a long term annual study of a representative sample of adult Britons which began in 1991-2. At each time point, respondents described their usual main mode of transport for their daily commute, and provided details of their height and weight (BMI) in 2004-5 and in 2006-7.

This is an observational study, so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. Nevertheless, the analysis of individual level changes in BMI over time between the two groups of switchers, using data from a nationally representative survey, strengthens their findings, say the researchers.

If a larger proportion of commuters were able to abandon their cars for a more physically active commute, this could help drive down the average population BMI, they suggest.

Combined with other potential health, economic, and environmental benefits associated with walking, cycling and public transport, these findings add to the case for interventions to promote the uptake of these more sustainable forms of transport, they wrote.

The study appears online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. (ANI)