Lower Mainland Health Experts Urge Residents to Vote Yes for Health

Vancouver, BC – Two new reports released this week highlight the overwhelming health benefits that improved transit in Metro Vancouver can provide. New data from the local My Health My Community survey and a new literature review by UBC’s Dr. Lawrence Frank, show how active transportation, such as walking, biking and taking transit, has a positive influence on our health.

“Our survey, which included 28,000 Metro Vancouver respondents, found that Metro residents who commute by transit, walking or biking are more likely to be physically active and less likely to be overweight or obese than those who commute by car,” says Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly. “A yes vote in the upcoming transit referendum is a vote to improve our health now and for decades to come.”

“Many chronic illnesses are preventable. Our physical and built surroundings have a major impact on whether we are at risk of for developing chronic disease or not,” says Medical Health Officer Dr. Victoria Lee. “Given the rising rates of obesity in Canada and rise in associated diseases such as diabetes, these results indicate the potential for investments in active transportation to directly affect these health trends.”

Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s eHealth Strategy Office surveyed 33,000 Lower Mainland adults in 2013/14. The My Health, My Community Transportation and Health report is posted on www.myhealthmycommunity.org under “Results”.

Key survey findings:

  • Metro Vancouver residents who commute by transit, biking or walking have 33% lower odds of being overweight or obese compared to those who commute by car; those who bike or walk have 48% lower odds and those who use transit have 22% lower odds
  • Metro Vancouver residents who commute by transit, biking or walking are twice as likely to achieve recommended daily physical activity recommendations compared to those who commute by car
  • Metro Vancouver residents who commute by transit have the longest commute times – highlighting the need for investments in transit to reduce those times
  • Transit use is highest among lower income households, visible minorities and recent immigrants.
  • Sense of community belonging increases as commute length decreases. Cyclists and walkers have a greater sense of community belonging and car users with longer commute times have lower sense of community belonging.

These results echo the findings of a new report, Health Benefits of Transit Investment: Policy Brief, by UBC Professor Lawrence Frank, who reviewed over 30 studies on transit and health from North America and beyond. He found that when transit improvements are made, residents not only use the new infrastructure but also walk more and are less likely to be obese and develop chronic disease.

“When you build transit, you get people walking and driving and polluting less,” says Frank, a professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and the School of Community and Regional Planning.

“Our results suggest that transit use contributes to healthy body weight and reduced chronic disease.”

Key report findings:

  • Transit users accumulate anywhere between 12-18 minutes of additional walking per day compared to non-transit users
  • Transit users can get 25% of their daily recommended physical activity from using transit
  • New transit infrastructure can reduce daily vehicle use by 10-12 miles per day
  • Transit users were an average of 6.5 pounds lighter than non-users and 81% less likely to become obese over time

The data from both reports show that well-planned and accessible transportation systems will better residents’ health, highlighting the need for improved local infrastructure, which is why residents are encouraged to vote yes in the transit referendum.

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AVAILABILITY:
In addition to the usual availability by request, Dr. Patricia Daly and Lawrence Frank are available for interviews while at the following event:

Health Benefits of Transit Investment – March 9 from 4:30 pm-6:00 pm
Michael Smith Labs, 2185 East Mall,
UBC, Room 101-102

CONTACTS:

Dr. Patricia Daly
Medical Health Officer
Phone: 604-675-3918

Dr. Victoria Lee
Medical Health Officer
604-450-7881

Heather Amos, Media Relations Specialist The University of British Columbia
Phone: 604-822-3213 Cell: 604-828-3867 heather.amos@ubc.ca

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