Free bus rides may aid weight loss

Check out this interesting article from Australia. Would this type of idea fly in the US? I’d like to see this happen because not only are you encouraging more walking, you are also encouraging less air pollution from driving cars. As research has shown, there is a growing concern that the contaminants in air pollution can lead to weight gain/obesity.

“The study found that use of buses by older people increased after the policy was introduced and that those who took advantage of free bus passes were less likely to become overweight or obese.

Allowing older people to catch the bus for free might be one of the keys to helping stem obesity rates in developed countries, new research suggests.

A report to be issued today warns that many Australians are in denial about the fact that they are overweight or obese.

Another piece of research shows that incentives for older people to use public transport can help reduce obesity levels because people walk to transport stops.

British researchers studied the health implications of the 2006 introduction in England of free off-peak local bus transport for people aged 60 years and over.

The study found that use of buses by older people increased after the policy was introduced and that those who took advantage of free bus passes were less likely to become overweight or obese.

”Although increases in public transport use and reduction in total obesity associated with the introduction of the free bus travel were modest, the population level health benefits of these changes are likely to be considerable,” the authors wrote in the Journal of Epidemial Community Health.

”Addressing other barriers to public transport use, such as poor access and inconvenience, ease of car use and poor pedestrian access of neighbourhoods, should be prioritised to maximise the population health benefits of this policy.”

New research to be issued today by health-care company Bupa shows that only one-third of Australians consider themselves to be overweight but 60per cent weigh too much or are obese.

While 51 per cent of those surveyed for the study agreed that they would like to lose weight and 62 per cent would like to exercise more, 44 per cent said they did little or no regular exercise.

Bupa head of medical services Bert Boffa said 76 per cent of Australians believed that it was the individual’s responsibility to take preventative health measures but many did not put this into practice.

”The results highlight a serious disparity between our perception of ourselves, and the reality of our behaviour, which is leading many Australians firmly down the path of chronic disease,” Dr Boffa said.

Less than 30 per cent of Australians ate five or more serves of fruit and vegetables on most days.

”The research found the biggest barrier to Australians making healthier lifestyle choices was personal motivation.

”Time and expense were also cited as important factors.”

The survey also found that more than a third of Australians did not visit a doctor if they were concerned about their health.

The same survey was conducted in 11 other industrialised and developing countries.

The United States and Saudi Arabia had slightly higher obesity rates than Australia.

But people the US and Saudi Arabia were more likely to perceive themselves to be overweight.

Almost 40 per cent of Australian internet users went online to self-diagnose.

That compared with 52 per cent of New Zealanders and 49 per cent of Americans.

Australians ranked their greatest health fears as getting cancer, dementia or heart disease.

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