Public Transit = Weight Loss

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., June 30 (UPI) — Public transit systems can provide a daily built-in exercise program for those who commute, reducing the risk of obesity, U.S. researchers found.

Lead investigator John M. MacDonald of the University of Pennsylvania said the researchers conducted two surveys; one collected data prior to the completion of a light-rail system in Charlotte, N.C., and the second survey was conducted after completion.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found after the light-rail system was built, people using the system reduced their weight by about 6 pounds for a person 5′ 5″ and over. In addition, the public transit users were 81 percent less likely to become obese over time.

The surveys assessed level of physical activity, body mass index, perception of the neighborhood, public transit use before and after light-rail transit construction, plans to use light-rail transit when available and actual light-rail transit usage.

“Given that perceptions of neighborhood environments are independently associated with improved health outcomes, and that individuals who choose to use light-rail transit 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,” MacDonald said in a statement.

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