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Public transit systems contribute to weight loss and improved health
Date:6/29/2010

San Diego, CA, June 29, 2010 -- Increasing the availability of public transit systems is one among a number of modifications to the built environment that offers opportunities for increasing physical activity and reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated problems. In a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the RAND Corporation found that construction of a light-rail system (LRT) resulted in increased physical activity (walking) and subsequent weight loss by people served by the LRT. These findings suggest that improving neighborhood environments and increasing the public's use of LRT systems could improve health outcomes and potentially impact millions of individuals.

Public policy implications of the study are significant. "The built environment can constrain or facilitate physical activity. Understanding ways to encourage greater use of local environments for physical activity offers some hope for reducing the growth in the prevalence of obesity," commented lead investigator John M. MacDonald, PhD, University of Pennsylvania. "Given that perceptions of neighborhood environments are independently associated with improved health outcomes, and that individuals who choose to use LRT obtain some relative weight reduction, it would be prudent to encourage public policies that improve the safety and attractiveness of pedestrian environments that link home, work and transit stops to increase use of public transit for commuting to work. Public policy investments in transit should consider potential increases in physical activity as part of the broader set of costbenefit calculations of transit systems. Land- use planning and travel choice have a clear impact on health outcomes. Public transit systems can generate positive health impacts by encouraging greater numbers of users to walk to station stops and maintain more physica
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Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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