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President Obama’s appointment of Charlotte, NC Mayor Anthony Foxx as Transportation Secretary is an opportunity to reflect on the link between mass transit and health outcomes. Although the link between bicycling and health is obvious, it is less obvious – but still true – that people who use transit tend to be healthier than people who drive to work, simply because walking to a transit stop gives you more exercise taking a car curb to curb. And it was a study in Mayor Foxx’s city, in conjunction with the building of a light-rail system, which proved that link.
As reported in Science Daily,
Using two surveys, one collecting data prior to the completion of an LRT [Light Rail Transit] in Charlotte, North Carolina, the second after completion, investigators found that using light rail for commuting was associated with reductions in body mass index (BMI) over time. Specifically, LRT reduced BMI by an average of 1.18 kg/m2 compared to non-LRT users in the same area over a 12-18 month follow-up period. This is equivalent to a relative weight loss of 6.45 lbs for a person who is 5'5. LRT users were also 81% less likely to become obese over time.
So as Public Health Month comes to a close, take a moment to think about that connection between transit and health.