A recent issue of the Journal of Physical Activity & Health features a study that reveals the link between obesity rates and “active transportation,” or trips taken by walking, bicycling and public transit. (You may download the complete report from the Rutgers university website.)
Turns out, countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates. It’s important to note that the study doesn’t prove that riding the bus will make you slim, but it does identify a possible factor that accounts for international differences in obesity rates.
As reported on MSNBC.com:
Americans, with the highest rate of obesity, were the least likely to walk, cycle or take mass transit.
Only 12 percent use active transportation in the United States — 9 percent walk, 1 percent ride a bike and 2 percent take a bus or train — while a quarter to a third are obese, the study said.
By comparison, 67 percent of commuters in Latvia, 62 percent in Sweden and 52 percent in the Netherlands either walk, bike or use mass transit. Latvia’s obesity rate is 14 percent, the Netherlands’ is 11 percent and Sweden’s is 9 percent.
A similar pattern was found in Canada (19 percent active transportation, 23 percent obese) and Australia (14 percent active transportation, 21 percent obese).
Overall, Bassett said, “Europeans walk three times as far and cycle five times as far as Americans.”