Posted by Anter Prakash Singh on May 13, 2011

The increasing obesity and growing number of persons suffering from type 2 diabetes can be linked to the growing dependence on vehicles instead of walking.

Increased use of cars causing obesity
The study findings indicate that the growing reliance on cars can be related with the increasing obesity rates.

Other factors like eating junk food, watching television, or playing video games for long periods have long been associated with obesity and have long been acknowledged as the factors behind the obesity epidemic. Now the researchers suggest that the driving habits are also partly to blame.

Though the study was conducted in the US, researchers say that it could also be applied to the citizens of Canada as well.

Author of the study, Sheldon H. Jacobson, professor of computer sciences with the University of Illinois said, “I think it’s a problem that is prevalent where automobiles are such an important part of our daily life. Certainly it’s true in United States, I believe it will be true to a considerable degree in Canada.”

The researchers analysed data regarding the average miles travelled by a vehicle between 1985 and 2007. They found that during this period the number of miles driven by each vehicle, and apparently their owners, increased considerably.

The researchers compared this data with the figures about the obesity and found that there was a close relationship. The statistics showed that there was up to 99 percent correlation between the increase in the miles driven and the rise in obesity rates.

Obesity increasing alarmingly in U.S.
The study findings gain importance given the fact that obesity has become the leading cause of type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increasing physical activity is best for avoiding type 2 diabetes and reducing the use of automobiles could be a step in the right direction.

Jacobson said, “When you are sitting in a car, you are doing nothing, so your body is burning the least amount of energy possible. And if you are eating food in your car, it becomes even worse.

“If you look over the 60 plus years, the automobile has become our primary mode of transportation. It is that energy imbalance that ultimately may lead to obesity.”

The study has been published in the journal ‘Transport Policy’.

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