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Eur J Public Health. 2009 Oct;19(5):470-6. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckp048. Epub 2009 Jun 17.

Socio-economic factors and active commuting to school in urban Spanish adolescents: the AVENA study.

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  • 1Department of Physical Education and Sport, School of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Carretera Alfacar s/n, Granada, Spain.



This study aimed: (i) to describe the patterns of commuting to school in urban Spanish adolescents; and (ii) to examine the associations between active commuting to school (ACS) and socio-economic factors.


From the AVENA Study, 2183 adolescents (1142 females) aged 13-18.5 years were gathered. Mode and time of transportation to school were self-reported by the adolescents. Parental education level (primary, secondary or university degree), parental professional level (managerial, skilled worker or unskilled worker/unemployed) and the type of school (public or private) were self-reported by the parents. The relationships between ACS and socio-economic factors were analysed by binary logistic regression.


Nearly <65% of the adolescents reported ACS and 83% of them spent <15 min travelling to school. In male adolescents, maternal primary education level showed an odds ratio (OR) of 1.55 (95% confidence interval, 1.12-2.15), with respect to mothers with a university degree. In female adolescents, mothers with a primary education level showed an OR of 0.68 (0.50-0.92), with respect to mothers with a university degree. Low maternal professional level showed an OR of 1.70 (1.29-2.24), with respect to high maternal professional levels. Students attending public schools showed an OR of 3.47 (2.46-4.90), with respect to students from private schools.


Most of the adolescents actively commuted to school, yet the time spent commuting was low. Socio-economic level seems to be inversely related to the ACS in adolescents. Type of school and maternal educational level were the main predictors of ACS.

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