Research Study Abstract

Associations of children’s mode of school commuting with health outcomes

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: This study examined associations between school commuting mode and children’s cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Methods: Participants were 226 children (48% boys), aged 8.1 (SD 0.4) years from Melbourne, Australia. Mothers reported their own highest level of education, and the frequency and duration of their child’s typical active (walking or cycling; 0 trips, 1-5 trips, >6 trips/week) and sedentary (travelling by car/bus; 0 trips, 1-60 mins, >60 mins/week) school commuting. Children’s waist circumference, blood pressure, height and weight were measured and BMI calculated. A fasted, morning blood sample determined total serum cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein (LDL-C) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and insulin resistance. Moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA; ≥4METs) and sedentary time (≤100 counts/min) were objectively-measured using accelerometry. Associations were assessed by linear regression, adjusting for sex, maternal education, children’s MVPA or sedentary time (respectively) and clustering by school (unit of recruitment).

Results: There was an inverse association between active commuting frequency (p=0.04) and duration (p=0.04) and LDLC scores. Increases in both frequency and duration of active commuting were associated with an approximately 0.12mmol/L decrease in LDL-C. A positive association was found between FPG and sedentary commuting duration (p=0.05), with increased duration associated with an approximately 0.09mmol/L increase in FPG. No other significant associations were observed.

Conclusions: School commuting mode showed significant associations with two serum biomarkers. Interventions aiming to increase active commuting and decrease sedentary commuting are warranted as they may have an important positive effect on some aspects of children’s metabolic health.