A new study cites commuting by car as one of the chief causes of America’s obesity epidemic.

A study carried out by researchers from the University of Tennesee and Rutgers University entitled "Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, North America, and Australia" studied health and travel data from 17 countries. It found that, in America, only about 12 percent of people engage in “active transportation,” meaning walking, cycling or similar. About 25-33 percent of Americans are obese. Compare that to Sweden, where 62 percent of the population uses active transportation and only nine percent are obese and you can see the problem.

This all sounds a bit obvious, but formal results can help influence transportation policy and impact broad attitudes towards our own behavior. Neither is this purely a reflection of laziness or pure bad habits, most American cities necessitate commuting by car.

The study found that Americans walk an average of 87 miles per year compared to 237 miles for their European counterparts. That means Euros burn an extra five to nine pounds of fat per year from walking alone.

The study concludes, “Walking and bicycling are far more common in European countries than in the United States, Australia and Canada. Active transportation is inversely related to obesity in these countries."


[via Wired]