London: Want to try a sure-shot way of losing extra flab? Leave your car at home and try public transport instead.
Commuting to work by active (walking or cycling) and public modes of transport is linked to lower body weight and body fat composition compared with those using cars, suggests a British study.
Active commuters are at lower risk of being overweight but there was a lack of good evidence linking active commuting with objective measures of obesity.
So a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London set out to investigate the relationship between active commuting and two known markers for obesity - body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat.
They analysed 7,534 BMI measurements and 7,424 percentage body fat measurements from men and women taking part in the large United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study.
They found significant health benefits linked to walking, cycling and taking public transport to work.
Men who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores around one point lower than those who used private transport, equating to a difference in weight of three kg for the average man, the study found.
Women who commuted via public or active transport had BMI scores around 0.7 points lower than their private transport using counterparts, equating to a difference in weight of 2.5 kg for the average woman.
In the study, 76 percent of men and 72 percent of women commuted to work by private motorised transport while 10 percent of men and 11 percent of women reporting using public transport.
Only 14 percent of men walked or cycled to work compared with 17 percent of women.
According to researchers, the use of public transport and walking and cycling in the journey to and from work “should be considered as part of strategies to reduce the burden of obesity and related health conditions”.
The study appeared on the website of the British Medical Journal.