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What Scientists Found About Losing Weight and Obesity After Observing How People Use Public Transportation

Harold Mandel's picture
Making the choice of public transit

Researchers say that higher mass transit use has been found to be associated with lower rates of obesity.


Obesity is a very prevalent serious health problem. It appears that poor diets coupled with sedentary lifestyles are largely to blame for obesity.

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Increased mass transit use is associated with lower obesity rates

It is well known that staying physically active can help regulate your weight. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have determined that increased mass transit use is associated with lower obesity rates. The increased physical activity seen with the use of mass transit seems to explain this finding.

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According to researchers at University of Illinois healthy mass transit systems may contribute to communities which are healthier. It has been observed that there are lower obesity rates associated with more mass transit use in counties across the United States.

Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science at University of Illinois, says research has suggested that investments in convenient and affordable public transit systems may improve public health by decreasing obesity. He did this study with graduate student Zhaowei She and Douglas M. King, who is a lecturer of industrial and enterprise systems engineering.

Investments at a community-level into public transit systems may also serve to benefit public health

King has said this research has suggested that along with benefits to the environment and more access to transportation for residents, investments at a community-level into public transit systems may also serve to benefit public health by decreasing rates of obesity. The study found that for each increase of 1 percent in a county’s population who frequently ride on public transit, obesity rates decreased by 0.2 percent.

Jacobson has commented that there is an opportunity for more physical activity when public transit is used instead of driving a car. When you drive your own car the walking part of a trip is cut out. A walk to and from a bus station or train station offers the opportunity for extra physical activity.

This study has been published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Researchers at the University of Illinois
analyzed the impact of the use of public transit on obesity. The findings offer support for how effective encouragement of use of public transit can be used as a strategy to fight obesity. It's an interesting thought that deciding to use mass transit instead of your car may help you stay fit and trim.