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Motorists on average 4kg heavier than cyclists

Research on how people travel in seven European cities provides further evidence on health benefits of cycling and walking

People who drive as their main form of transport are, on average, 4kg heavier than those who cycle, according to an ongoing Europe-wide study that adds further evidence to the benefits of active travel.

Researchers from the EU-funded Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches (PASTA) project have, so far, monitored 11,000 volunteers in seven European cities, looking at how they get around the city and how much time they spend travelling.

Researchers asked participants to record their height and weight, and to provide information about their attitudes towards walking and cycling. Initial data analysis found those who drive cars as their main form of transport are, on average, 4kg heavier than those who cycle; researchers are looking for more participants in Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Orebro in Sweden, Rome, Vienna and Zurich. 

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Imperial University’s project lead, Dr Audrey de Nazelle, from the Centre for Environmental policy, said: “We don’t have cause and effect yet, but we hope this first finding will encourage more people to take part in the survey so that we can get more data over time and make a link between transport decisions and health.”

“Our research shows that factors like urban design, how we move in cities, and the use of cars, bikes or walking could all play an important role in determining the level of people’s daily physical activity.”

Dr Adrian Davis, a UK transport and health expert and member of PASTA’s advisory board, said: “People who are physically inactive are at higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks, as well as becoming overweight.

“Our research shows that factors like urban design, how we move in cities, and the use of cars, bikes or walking could all play an important role in determining the level of people’s daily physical activity.”

The researchers also want to determine how people make transport decisions, and what measures cities can take to encourage walking and cycling.

Dr de Nazelle said: “Cycling is at low levels in the UK – when you compare that to places like northern Europe you can see there’s really huge potential to increase the levels.”

To take part in the research, sign up at the PASTA project website.

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12 comments

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds | 4 years ago
0 likes

Forget about the weight, what about the body fat %, what about useful work rate (though government have apparently said motorists time is more worthy!)

Going strictly by a BMI chart and I'm obese, yet my quads are only a 2-3" smaller than Chris Hoy's were at his peak, I've still got a fairly broad 47" chest/big shoulders (I don't do weights otherwise I get big fairly quickly) and sure, I could probably lose 5kg to be near my peak in my 20s but looking into the cars/vans and seeing lorry drivers get out and these people for the most part look like heart attacks/strokes waiting to happen yet I might be heavier due to having more muscle mass.

Even 20 minutes of moderate cycling a day far exceeds what a huge % of the population does.

That we could save tens of billions on the NHS every year (not to mention improving society/overall lifestyle) by changing/forcing people to quit motors always seems to be ignored by those in power, it's like they have some agenda to not invest heavily in active travel.

Avatar
nniff | 4 years ago
2 likes

I have bikes and a car.  This week, more miles on bike than car.  Last week, very much the other way round.  In terms of mileage over the course of the year, they are about even, so I must weigh more or less the same as me.  I think.

Avatar
Deeferdonk | 7 years ago
1 like

The average cycle commuter is also younger than the average driver. We don’t have cause and effect yet, but we hope this first finding will encourage more people to take part in the survey so that we can get more data over time and make a link between transport decisions and defying the linear nature of time itself.

Avatar
jh27 replied to Deeferdonk | 4 years ago
1 like
Deeferdonk wrote:

The average cycle commuter is also younger than the average driver.

I'm not sure that is true, although if we are only comparing cyclists of working age to drivers of all ages, I suppose that might be true.  With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes the realisation that driving to work is a chore.

Avatar
Deeferdonk | 7 years ago
2 likes

The average cycle commuter is also more male than the average driver. We don’t have cause and effect yet, but we hope this first finding will encourage more people to take part in the survey so that we can get more data over time and make a link between transport decisions and growing testicles.

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Stumps | 7 years ago
2 likes

totally agree with sp59, everyone knows it's more beneficial to be active so why spend money to pay people to confirm it.

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
2 likes

Fat and stupid!

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the little onion | 7 years ago
3 likes

I love the food-related project acronym - PASTA. Though the best I have come across is a project looking at climate change and weather in cities - project SCORCHIO (http://www.arcc-network.org.uk/wp-content/Summaries/SCORCHIO-summary-final.pdf in case someone suspects me of making it up)

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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
12 likes

It would be much more, if it weren't for cake

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Simon E replied to bendertherobot | 7 years ago
4 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

It would be much more, if it weren't for cake

I'm not so sure, my car-bound colleagues eat almost as much cake at work as I do.

When I switched from car to bike for my 5 mile crosstown commute I lost 3kg withing a month without trying and the journey was a pleasure instead of a chore.

Public Health England says that a lack of physical activity costs the UK an estimated £7.4bn a year (https://twitter.com/PHE_uk/status/757897782841712641).

Avatar
Wookie | 7 years ago
3 likes

I must be the exception

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
10 likes

Excellent.

 

Starting petition for fat bastard tax.

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