AsianScientist (Jun. 12, 2013) – People who walk or cycle to work are less likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study on 4,000 participants in India.
The research, led by Christopher Millett from Imperial College London and and colleagues from the Public Health Foundation of India, was published in this week’s PLOS Medicine.
By analyzing physical activity and health information collected from almost 4,000 participants in the Indian Migration Study, the researchers found that people living in rural areas were more likely to cycle to work than people living in towns and cities (68.3 percent versus 15.9 percent).
Half of people who traveled to work by private transport were overweight, while the rate for those who took public transport was 38 percent. Only a quarter of people who walked or cycled to work were overweight.
Cyclists and pedestrians are also less likely to have diabetes or high blood pressure compared to people who take public or private transport to work.
“Efforts to increase active travel in urban areas and halt declines in rural areas should be integral to strategies to maintain healthy weight and prevent [non-communicable diseases] in India. This should include greater investment in public transport and improving the safety and convenience of bicycling and walking in Indian towns and cities,” the authors write.
“Specific measures to discourage car use should also be considered and could include carbon rationing, road pricing, car parking restrictions, and reduced speed limits.”
These findings are important as they suggest that active travel could reduce rates of important risk factors for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are projected to rapidly increase dramatically in India and other low- and middle-income countries over the next two decades.
Source: PLOS; Photo: pawpaw67/Flickr/CC.
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