Associations of mode of school commuting with health outcomes among children (#185)
This study examined associations of children’s active and sedentary school commuting with body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and blood pressure (BP).
Data were drawn from the baseline phase of the Transform-Us! randomised controlled trial, conducted in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. Complete data were available for 296 children (41% boys) aged 8.2 (SD 0.47) years. Children’s weight, height, WC, systolic, and diastolic BP were objectively measured using standard protocols and BMI was calculated as a standardised z-score. Parents proxy-reported the frequency of their child’s usual mode of commuting to/from school (walking and cycling - active commuting; driven by car/bus - sedentary commuting), along with their own education level. Linear regression analyses (adjusting for sex, parents’ education level and clustering by school) examined associations between active and sedentary commuting and BMI z-score, WC and systolic and diastolic BP.
On average, children walked or cycled to/from school 2.3 trips/week and travelled by car or bus 5.6 trips/week. Approximately 21% of children were overweight/obese according to their BMI, and less than 10% had a WC greater than the 90th percentile. Approximately 15% recorded a systolic BP above the 90th percentile, but only 7% recorded a diastolic BP in that range. Children’s mode of school commuting was not significantly associated with BMI z-score, WC or BP; however associations between sedentary commuting and children’s BMI z-score and WC approached significance in the expected direction.
In this cohort of Australian primary school-aged children, there were no significant associations between any of the cardiometabolic health outcomes and children’s commuting to or from school; however two associations for sedentary commuting did approach significance. The lack of significant findings may be due the small sample size, or few children presented with adverse health outcomes. Further research examining these questions in a larger sample is required.