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Boarding Commercial Vehicles to Work May Lower Obesity Rates

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A study published in the Journal of Transportation Research says boarding commercial vehicles lowers obesity rate.

The research — conducted in the University of Illinois — found that opting for public transportation instead of driving is capable of lowering obesity rate and improving one’s health.

“Opting for mass transit over driving creates opportunities for exercise that may otherwise not exist,” said Sheldon Jacobson, researcher and computer science professor at Illinois.

“Instead of just stepping out of the house and into his car, riders need to walk from their home to a bus stop and from their stop to their destination.”

Drawing on health, transportation and census data from 2001 to 2009 across 227 countries in 45 states in the US, the researchers made quite interesting findings.

A single percentage-point increase in mass transit usage was associated with 0.473 percentage-point lower obesity rate.

This finding is consistent with a previous research showing that each percentage point increase in public transit ridership was associated with 0.221 percentage-point lower obesity rate.

According to the researchers, this implies that “when more people opt to use public transit, the county-level obesity rate tends to drop”.

While not readily suggesting that any one particular person is less likely to be obese if they rode transit frequently, the researchers agreed that such would “help the environment” and “may also offer public health benefits”.

“Because this analysis is at the county level, the implications for an average person are not clear,” Jacobson added, suggesting that further studies would look into how transport systems like Uber and bike-share influence the analysis.

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