Monday, January 10, 2011

Relationship between biking, walking, & obesity

There's yet another study out showing the relationship between active travel (biking & walking to get from here to there) vs. car travel and the relationship to obesity rates.

Infographic by The National Building Museum in Washington DC, USA.
It's no surprise that where children utilize human-powered transportation to get to (for example) school as opposed to being driven there, they seem to be much less likely to suffer from obesity and its ill-effects.

Obviously, activity is the key: If kids participate in movement-based after school activities, this might very well help to alleviate some of the affects of being driven to and from school. But then there's the whole petroleum consumption and its maladies.

I have noticed a related correlation. The schools that have trails (some safe, off-road route) that lead to them, have a much greater rate of children who walk or ride their bicycles. Of course this makes sense from numerous standpoints. First, the trails are safer than kids walking & riding on busy (or any) roads due to a decreased risk of auto/pedestrian accidents. Secondly, for those people who are paranoid about someone kidnapping their child ("The Ransom of Red Chief" is more realistic than this fear, but that's another story.) then trails are also much safer. It is much more likely that the (ubiquitous) kidnapper will utilize the services of an automobile when attempting a kidnapping. I would assume (having never seen the upside of kidnapping) that it would be much easier to pull off such a stunt from a motor vehicle than on foot or (nearly impossible) on bike.

Anyway, I think the above chart allows the statistics to speak for themselves. Active kids are healthy kids.



Ryan Kopp said...

Thanks for this. This is something we are trying to "drive home" here in Pueblo, CO where childhood obesity rates are the highest in the state.

trailsnet said...

My pleasure.
It would be interesting to do a study and try to ascertain a relationship between the obesity rate in a community and the number of trail miles in that same community.
I know that Colorado is often cited as the state w/ the lowest rate of obesity in the nation, & Boulder has the lowest rate of obesity in Colorado. I also know that Boulder is absolutely riddled with paths in, around, and outside the town.
Although the correlation may not be 100%, I would imagine there is a pretty strong relationship between trails and community fitness.