Cars and Obesity: Commuting by Car May Increase Risk of Death by 32%

People with obesity who also commute by car were associated with a 32% higher risk of death (from any cause) when compared to people of a normal weight who commuted actively. This new research was presented at the European Congress on Obesity, which is taking place this year April 28 to May 1. The study was completed by scientists at the University of Glasgow and used data from UK Biobank subjects.

The Study

This study was comprehensive and extensive, using data from 163,149 subjects and following up with them for a mean number of five years. Here are further details about this study:

  • The subjects were from ages 37 to 73.
  • 8% of the subjects were women.
  • Obesity was defined as having a BMI (weight-to-height ratio) higher than 30.
  • Subjects were sorted into four categories: car commuters, mixed walking, and cycling commuters, cycling commuters, and walking commuters.

Some interesting findings of this study include the following:

  • When followed up, 2,426 participants died and 7,973 developed heart disease.
  • Obese subjects who commuted by car were associated with a 32% higher risk of premature death compared to healthy-weight, mixed commuters.
  • Obese subjects who were active commuters still had an 82% increased risk of heart disease when compared with active commuters of normal weight.

Active commuting can have a large impact on the risk of death.

An interesting finding, however, was that obese subjects who commuted actively had a similar risk of death (from any cause) to active commuters of normal weight. If the relationship between active commutes and risk of death are causal, this finding suggests that commuting actively can have an enormous impact on health.

Obesity in Western Nations

Obesity has been a hot topic for many years now, especially among industrialized Western nations where fast-food, sugary drinks and deep-fried treats are readily available. In the U.K., 26% of adults were obese in 2016. In the United States — where, munching on a cheeseburger and road-tripping on the Interstate is a recognizable part of American culture — the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% in 2015-2016.

Exercise during your commute!

If you struggle with staying fit yourself, your commute is actually a fantastic time to fit in some exercise. The advantage of a commuting workout is that it’s built directly into your day, which makes it harder for you to avoid it (unless you sleep in!).

Walking and cycling are default ways to commute, but taking public transit is also better than simply driving. For example, you can get off the bus or train a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. To add some variety and stimulation to your commute, you can listen to a podcast or audiobook and explore alternative routes.

Are there other ways to lose weight?

While there are medications available to help people lose weight, such as orlistat, and medications to help treat obesity-related health concerns like hypertension, patients are still required to adopt healthier lifestyle changes.

If you are interested in losing weight, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can make personalized recommendations on lifestyle changes according to your personal health history. They can also inform you of any cautions you should take, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while.

The Cost of Obesity

The dangers of obesity cannot be understated. Diabetes and heart disease, for example, are two chronic diseases frequently associated with obesity that can have a detrimental effect on your health.

In addition to the everyday aches and pains of living with a chronic disease, diabetes and heart disease also exert a heavy financial cost. For example, the cost of insulin is so high that some people ration or skip doses because they can’t afford it. Meanwhile, other patients may look elsewhere for cheaper medication sources, such as online Canada pharmacy referral services. Access affordable medications from Canadian pharmacies & approved International pharmacies and fulfillment centers. Other countries typically have lower medication costs than the United States due to more robust drug price regulations.

The good news is, much of the health risks associated with obesity — and obesity itself — can be avoided and even reversed. But the battle does require some work and sacrifice. Fighting obesity should be a slow, steady, and sustainable process.

For example, don’t cut out all your favorite high-calorie foods right away, but slowly reduce unhealthy foods bit by bit. Working out intensely right off the bat may also increase your chances of relapsing into an unhealthy lifestyle, so build physical activity into your day bit by bit. You can start by integrating more and more walking into your daily commute, for instance.

If you struggle with obesity, know that you are far from alone! Talk to your doctor today to see what you can do to start getting fit.

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