People who drive cars as their main form of transport weigh on average 4 kilograms more than those who cycle, according to the preliminary results of a new study in which the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) has participated.
The EU-funded PASTA project –led by an international group of experts, including the World Health Organization - is studying how different forms of transport relate to levels of physical activity, and consequently people’s health. For this, PASTA researchers monitored 11,000 volunteers in seven European cities and asked how they move around the city, which mode of transport they use and how much time they spend travelling. The project also asked volunteers to record their height, weight, and to provide information about their attitudes towards walking and bicycling and whether they experienced any accidents recently.
“In Barcelona we have recruited 1,800 volunteers”, explains ISGlobal researcher David Rojas, “and we have participated in the collection and analysis of data from all the volunteers”. Dr Adrian Davis, a UK transport and health expert and member of PASTA’s advisory board says: “People who are physically inactive are at high risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, stroke, heart attacks, as well as becoming overweight. Our research shows that factors like urban design, how we move in cites, the use of cars, bikes or walking could play an important role in determining the level of people’s daily physical activity.”
Indeed, adds Dr. Rojas, “cities are not static, they are constantly being redesigned. There are enormous health gains to be made if we manage to translate these results into policies that favour a more active mobility within the cities. Our next goal is to use the results obtained in this study in order to measure gains in life quality and life expectancy as well as in economic terms”.
Elisabeth Raser, project leader from the BOKU institute in Vienna added: “This is a great opportunity to participate in a pan-European project, where the results will help to improve urban design, mobility and health in European cities.
The PASTA project is looking for more volunteers to take part in its research to help understand the relationship between transport and health. Get involved by visiting www.pastaproject.eu