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Obes Res. 2005 May;13(5):868-75.

Associations among active transportation, physical activity, and weight status in young adults.

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University of North Carolina, Carolina Population Center, University Square, 123 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516-3997, USA.



To describe prevalence of active, public, and car transit by overweight status and amount of leisure-time physical activity in a nationally representative cohort of ethnically diverse young adults.


Questionnaire data on patterns of transportation were collected from U.S. adolescents enrolled in Wave III (2001) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 10,771). Measured height and weight data were used to calculate BMI and classify adults by overweight status (BMI > or = 25). Self-reported physical activity data were used to classify adults into those who achieved > or = 5 bouts of weekly moderate-vigorous physical activity and those who did not. Results were stratified by overweight and physical activity status.


The vast majority of young adults used car transit (work, 90.4%; school, 74.7%). A small proportion of young adults used active means of transportation to work (8.1%) and school (26.7%), and fewer used public transportation to work or school (<10%). The proportion of individuals using active transportation was higher among the nonoverweight traveling to work (9.2%) and school (29.7%) and among the more active traveling to work (15.2%) and school (37.0%) relative to the overweight and less active young adults.


The vast majority of young adults of all racial/ethnic backgrounds, particularly blacks and Hispanics, did not use active transportation to school and/or work. Active transportation was more common among nonoverweight and more active young adults, of high socioeconomic status, particularly full-time students. Population-level efforts (and environmental supports) to increase non-leisure physical activity, particularly active transportation, are sorely needed as a means of supporting and promoting overall physical activity.

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