Promoting cycling in cities could tackle obesity

| | London

Encouraging people to ride a cycle to work may not only help cities tackle air pollution, but also reduce obesity in urban populations, a study has found.  Researchers from Hasselt University in Belgium and Imperial College London in the UK suggests that daily cyclists weigh less than their non-active counterparts.

The study, published in the journal Environment International, also found that riding an electric bike (e-bike) is associated with a higher (body mass index)BMI as compared to regular cyclists.

In ascending order, cyclists have the lowest BMI, then walkers, public transport users, motorcyclists, users of an electric bike, and finally car drivers, who have the highest BMI.

By following over 2,000 urban dwellers over time, the team found that men who switch from car driving to cycling for their daily travel lose on average 0.75 kg of weight, with an average decrease in BMI of 0.24. For women, this was a little bit less.

Promoting active travel in cities may therefore provide an opportunity to fight the obesity epidemic, as well as tackle air pollution.  "Travel by car contributes to obesity and also air pollution. In contrast, bikes burn fat and don't release pollution," said Audrey de Nazelle, from Imperial College London.



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