Contrasts in active transport behaviour across four countries: how do they translate into public health benefits?
OBJECTIVE: Countries and regions vary substantially in transport related physical activity that people gain from walking and cycling and in how this varies by age and gender. This study aims to quantify the population health impacts of differences between four settings. METHOD: The Integrated Transport and Health Model (ITHIM) was used to estimate health impacts from changes to physical activity that would arise if adults in urban areas in England and Wales adopted travel patterns of Switzerland, the Netherlands, and California. The model was parameterised with data from travel surveys from each setting and estimated using Monte Carlo simulation. Two types of scenarios were created, one in which the total travel time budget was assumed to be fixed and one where total travel times varied. RESULTS: Substantial population health benefits would accrue if people in England and Wales gained as much transport related physical activity as people in Switzerland or the Netherlands, whilst smaller but still considerable harms would occur if active travel fell to the level seen in California. The benefits from achieving the travel patterns of the high cycling Netherlands or high walking Switzerland were similar. CONCLUSION: Differences between high income countries in how people travel have important implications for population health.
Medical Research Council (MR/K021796/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)