A new study now shows that public transport systems not only provide numerous economic benefits to the community, but can also help reduce obesity.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Georgia, compared and analyzed data for 2001 and 2009. The results of the study were published in the journal Transport Research, Part A: Policy and Practice.
The study showed that the increase in the number of passengers of public transport by one percentage point is associated with a decrease in the level of obesity by 0.473 percentage points in districts throughout the United States.
Speaking about the study, co-author Sheldon H. Jacobson said: "The choice of public transport because of driving creates opportunities for exercises that might not otherwise exist."
According to the researcher, instead of just getting out of the house and getting into the car, public transport offers people to walk from home to the bus stop and from there to the destination.
The study examines in detail the computational analysis of publicly available data on health care, transportation, and population censuses in 227 counties from 45 states in 2001 and 2009.
The analysis included differences in economic and lifestyle factors, including free time, household income, health insurance, and public transport financing.
The new analysis is consistent with the previous work of researchers, who found that each increase in the use of public transport in the country for each percentage point was associated with a lower level of obesity by 0.221 percentage points.
Speaking about the study, co-author Douglas M. King said that the new work uses a longitudinal approach, which means that they studied the differences between 2001 and 2009, which allowed them to better control the factors that could influence the analysis.
"For example, factors such as weather or physical geography that can affect the level of obesity in the district, both in 2001 and 2009, are controlled because their influence is present in both time periods," King added.
The researchers note that although these two studies differ in magnitude, they do not differ in a statistically significant way. However, both studies show that increased use of public transport is associated with a decrease in obesity in the country.
Although Jacobson admitted that since the analysis was conducted at the country level, its consequences for the average person were unclear, he added that the results show that when more and more people prefer to use public transport, the obesity rate at the district level tends to quit. However, he added that this does not necessarily mean that a particular person is less likely to be obese if he often transits.
This study focuses on data collected in 2001 and 2009, when rail and bus transport were the main modes of public transport in the United States.
“It will be interesting to see how Uber and Lyft, as well as bike-sharing programs, will affect this type of analysis in the future,” said Jacobson, adding, “Our research shows that investing in public transportation can provide more efficient transportation options.” this not only helps the environment, but can also benefit public health.
(This material has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is automatically created from the syndicated channel.)