271435 Miles and Pounds: The association between average daily vehicle miles traveled and obesity prevalence in Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mariana Arcaya, MCP , Society Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Thomas Land, PhD , Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Timothy Reardon, MCP , Data Services, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston, MA
Wenjun Li, PhD , Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Driving is the most common mode of commuting in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and average daily household vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have risen over the past 15 years. Driving, a sedentary transportation mode, has been associated with physical inactivity, excessive caloric intake and obesity. However, few studies have examined associations between VMT and obesity prevalence at the municipal level. We examine the association between VMT and obesity prevalence estimates at the municipal level in Massachusetts. Municipal-level VMT was calculated from household-level odometer reading records collected by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles between 2006 and 2007. Obesity prevalence estimates were derived using Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data during the same period. Municipal-level adult obesity prevalence was regressed against VMT, controlling for municipal-level per capita income, degree of urbanicity, and accounting for the inherent spatial structure of the data. These data show that average daily household VMT is a significant predictor of adult obesity prevalence, yielding estimates that for every 10 additional daily miles driven per household, municipal-level prevalence of adult obesity increases by .7% (p< .01). Further analysis on the relationship between daily household VMT and risk for obesity is warranted.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess evidence that driving is a risk factor for increased body mass index in Massachusetts Identify a novel source of transportation data available in many states

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary data analyst on the project and conceptualized the study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.