2013 - Research

Annual Motor Vehicle Travel Distance and Incident Obesity: A Prospective Cohort Study

This study was a prospective evaluation of the relationship between annual distance traveled by motor vehicles and subsequent incidence of overweight or obesity in a Mediterranean cohort.

  • Obesity has become a major health and economic problem with increasing prevalence. Unfortunately, no country can act as public health exemplar for reduction of obesity. The fınding of associations between sedentary behaviors and obesity, independent of the level of physical activity, may offer new insights.
  • This study was a prospective evaluation of the relationship between annual distance traveled by motor vehicles and subsequent incidence of overweight or obesity in a Mediterranean cohort.
  • Data from a prospective cohort study (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra Project, 1999 –2011) with a permanently open recruitment were analyzed. Self-administered questionnaires are mailed every 2 years, collecting information on dietary habits, lifestyle, risk factors, and medical conditions. Annual kilometers traveled by motor vehicles were grouped into three categories (<10,000; >10,000 to <20,000; and >20,000). Multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to assess the risk of overweight or obesity across categories of distance traveled annually.
  • In all, 9160 participants (58% female, average age 37 years) were followed up for a median of 6.4 years. During 39,175 person-years of follow-up, 1044 (15.3%) normal-weight participants at baseline became overweight or obese. Among participants who did not change their category of annual kilometers traveled during follow-up, an increased risk of overweight or obesity in the highest category of annual kilometers traveled was observed, compared with the lowest one (hazard ratio = 1.4, 95% CI=1.1, 1.7).
  • This study suggests a potential pernicious effect of the use of motor vehicles on the risk of overweight or obesity.

Nunez-Cordoba JM, Bes-Rastrallo M, Pollack KM, Segui-Gomez M, Beunza JJ, Syon-Orea C, Martinez-Gonzales MA. (2013).Annual motor vehicle travel distance and incident obesity: a prospective cohort study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44(3), 254-259.

Authored by: 
Nunez-Cordoba JM
Bes-Rastrallo M
Pollack KM
Segui-Gomez M
Beunza JJ
Syon-Orea C
Martinez-Gonzales MA.