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Oi, fatso! Ditch the car and lose half a stone

Unable to shift a few stubborn pounds or looking to get into better shape with minimal effort? You could try leaving your car at home.

A study found men who drove to work were up to 3kg (6.6lb) heavier and had a one point higher body mass index (BMI) than those who used public transport, walked or cycled to work. Women were found to have a 0.7-point higher average BMI and 2.5kg (5.5lb) heavier.

The average BMI was 28 for men and 27 for women, according to data from more than 15,000 commuters analysed by the University College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. A BMI of between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. 

The study explained: “Those who used active and public transport modes had a lower BMI and percentage body fat compared with those who used private transport. 

“A key finding from this study is that the effects observed for public transport were very similar in size and significance to those for walking or cycling to work. This finding may have important implications for transport and health policy, as over the past decade the proportion of commuters who walk or cycle to work has remained stubbornly low outside major cities in the UK. 

“Greater emphasis on encouraging a shift from private to public transport modes may plausibly have significant population health benefit and may be more acceptable to commuters.” 

Spending the morning and afternoon sitting in a car has been linked to other health issues, including heart and lung problems and back ache.

Another survey found cyclists were happier than those who drive or take public transport.

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