Driving The Car To The Office Puts You At Greater Risk Of Being Overweight

Approaches to Sydney Harbour Bridge. David Rogers/Getty Images

Leaving the car at home and using public transport or a bike to get to work could stop you piling on the weight, according to a UK study.

Looking at records of thousands of people, the researchers found men who take the car weigh an average of 3 kg more than those whose commute is more active, while female drivers weigh an average of 2.5 kg more.

The study published in the journal thebmj.com shows 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 private transport.

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 for both men and women.

A total of 76% of men and 72% of women commuted to work by private motorised transport, 10% of men and 11% of women reporting using public transport, while 14% of men walked or cycled to work compared with 17% of women. Overall BMI score for men was 28 and 27 for women.

Generally, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 indicates optimal weight, a BMI lower than 18.5 suggests the person is underweight, a number above 25 may indicate the person is overweight, and a number above 30 suggests the person is obese.

Men who commuted via public or active modes had BMI scores around 1 point lower than those who used private transport, equating to a difference in weight of 3kg for the average man.

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 2.5kg for the average woman.

Results for percentage body fat were similar in size and significance.

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