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11-01-2016 | Obesity | News

News in brief

Commuting habits may influence midlife BMI

medwireNews: Data from the UK Biobank study indicate that people lose weight when they switch from car commuting to active or public transport.

Objectively measured body mass index (BMI) fell by an average of 0.30 kg/m2 among 480 participants, aged 40–69 years, who made this switch between follow-up points a median of 4.4 years apart, relative to 3646 who reported commuting by car at both times.

Conversely, the average BMI of the 416 who switched to car commuting rose by 0.32 kg/m2. Both associations were independent of demographic, socioeconomic, health, physical activity, and occupational variables.

For an average male and female participant, the changes equated to about 1.0 and 0.8 kg, respectively, say Ellen Flint (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK) and co-researchers.

“These findings suggest that policies that enable and encourage the maintenance and uptake of commuting by more active modes such as public transportation, walking, or cycling could have an effect on obesity prevalence in this high-risk age group,” they write in The Lancet Public Health.

The team notes that only 15% of the participants altered their commute mode, with very few of these switching to active transport (walking or cycling), implying “untapped potential” for interventions to encourage people away from car commuting.

By Eleanor McDermid

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2016