Loading articles...

People who walk, cycle, or take transit a third less likely to be obese: study

Last Updated Apr 29, 2015 at 9:39 am PDT

(iStock Photo)
Summary

Vancouver Coastal Health says people who get out of their cars tend to have more positive lifestyle habits

Car users with longer commutes have lower sense of community belonging

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – If you walk, cycle, or take transit, chances are, you’re healthier than your friends who drive every day.

Those are the results of a new study that comes just one month before ballots have to be in for the transportation plebiscite.

People who choose to walk, cycle, or take transit are 33 per cent less likely to be obese than those who are dependent on their cars, says Dr. Jat Sandhu with Vancouver Coastal Health.

He adds they also are likely to have more positive lifestyle habits.

“And these lifestyle attributes [are] characterized by eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day, having 30 minutes of walking a day, meeting their 150 minutes of exercise a week, as well as not smoking.”

There was a difference in level of connection to the community, as well.

“Those car users with longer commute times had a much lower sense of community belonging, and that’s a proxy marker for your social connectedness to your community as well as your social connections around you. So, really, the message here is that there are clear positive health dividends for those that participate in active transportation, whereas for car users with long commutes, there’s a downside in relation to how well connected they are to their community,” says Sandhu.

This study began in 2013 and the data was collected over a year.

About 28,000 people took part in the study, which is part of a larger project called My Health, My Community. Sandhu is the principal investigator of that project.

“This is part of our broader work around healthy communities. Across both VCH and Fraser Health, there are in excess of 30 municipalities that we work with and we’re working with local governments to develop official community plans to consider factors that may support creating health promoting environments, so this information is really going to inform that, and that was really the primary purpose of undertaking this project. Along the way, we realized we’ve collected a wealth of information that could inform other issues as well, and hence, the first report that we released was the transportation and health.”

Sandhu adds community profiles for 30 Lower Mainland municipalities will be released in about a month; the municipalities are benchmarked across their regional comparators.