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Associations between active commuting and body Adiposity among Atlantic Canadians

Zhijie Michael Yu and Cynthia Forbes

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Though the beneficial effects of regular physical activity on both health and body weight control have been well documented, only about one in ten people in the general population are aware of the public health guidelines for physical activity. Both Canadian and American activity guidelines recommend that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week to help maintain good health and prevent disease. Several research studies using Canadian Health Measures Survey data suggest that approximately 15% of Canadian adults meet the recommended guidelines according to objectively measured physical activity. In addition, the prevalence of obesity in Canada has been constantly increasing over the past 25 years. Currently, one in six Canadian adults are obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30 kg/m2). The situation is more pronounced in the Atlantic provinces in which one in four adults are classified as obese.

Lifestyle changes, particularly the emergence of an obesogenic diet and a decreasing trend in total physical activity, have been ascertained as a key contributor to the obesity epidemic. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle has been found to be one of the major contributors to the decreasing levels of total physical activity. The reliance and use of motorized vehicles is one of the major sedentary lifestyle activities which has been shown to be associated with body adiposity.In contrast, recent studies have reported that active commuting is associated with lower levels of body adiposity when compared with motor vehicle use. We hypothesized that physical activities such as commuting via walking or cycling may be related to decreased body adiposity in our study population. Therefore, we carried out a cross-sectional analysis to assess whether active commuting is associated with body adiposity among participants of the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (Atlantic PATH) cohort study.

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