Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health, study finds

Date:
June 29, 2010
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Increasing the availability of public transit systems is one among a number of modifications to the built environment that offers opportunities for increasing physical activity and reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated problems. In a new study, researchers found that construction of a light-rail system (LRT) resulted in increased physical activity (walking) and subsequent weight loss by people served by the LRT. These findings suggest that improving neighborhood environments and increasing the public's use of LRT systems could improve health outcomes and potentially impact millions of individuals.

Increasing the availability of public transit systems is one among a number of modifications to the built environment that offers opportunities for increasing physical activity and reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated problems.

Related Articles


In a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the RAND Corporation found that construction of a light-rail system (LRT) resulted in increased physical activity (walking) and subsequent weight loss by people served by the LRT. These findings suggest that improving neighborhood environments and increasing the public's use of LRT systems could improve health outcomes and potentially impact millions of individuals.

Public policy implications of the study are significant. "The built environment can constrain or facilitate physical activity. Understanding ways to encourage greater use of local environments for physical activity offers some hope for reducing the growth in the prevalence of obesity," commented lead investigator John M. MacDonald, PhD, University of Pennsylvania.

"Given that perceptions of neighborhood environments are independently associated with improved health outcomes, and that individuals who choose to use LRT obtain some relative weight reduction, it would be prudent to encourage public policies that improve the safety and attractiveness of pedestrian environments that link home, work and transit stops to increase use of public transit for commuting to work. Public policy investments in transit should consider potential increases in physical activity as part of the broader set of cost-benefit calculations of transit systems. Land- use planning and travel choice have a clear impact on health outcomes. Public transit systems can generate positive health impacts by encouraging greater numbers of users to walk to station stops and maintain more physically active lives. An added benefit of public policy investments in LRT, on top of the general transportation benefits accrued, is the potential reductions in obesity in the population."

Using two surveys, one collecting data prior to the completion of an LRT in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second after completion, investigators found that using light rail for commuting was associated with reductions in body mass index (BMI) over time. Specifically, LRT reduced BMI by an average of 1.18 kg/m2 compared to non-LRT users in the same area over a 12-18 month follow-up period. This is equivalent to a relative weight loss of 6.45 lbs for a person who is 5'5. LRT users were also 81% less likely to become obese over time.

Survey questions assessed level of physical activity, BMI, perception of the neighborhood environment, public transit use before and after LRT construction, any plans to use LRT when available, and actual LRT usage.

There are currently 32 LRT systems operating in major U.S. metropolitan areas, generating over 200 million passenger trips a year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John M. MacDonald, Robert J. Stokes, Deborah A. Cohen, Aaron Kofner, Greg K. Ridgeway. The Effect of Light Rail Transit on Body Mass Index and Physical Activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2010; 39 (2)

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628203756.htm>.
Elsevier. (2010, June 29). Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628203756.htm
Elsevier. "Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628203756.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins