Given the increasing recognition of the distal mediators and moderators contributing to obesogenic environments, non-health sector obesity prevention interventions are required. The transportation sector has been identified for it’s potential to increase population levels of energy expenditure by incorporating more active transport into everyday life. Two significant barriers currently exist:
(1) There is currently very limited rigorous evidence on the obesity effect of transport interventions worldwide, for a number of reasons, including the significant challenges in measuring the effects of environmental interventions;
(2) The limited inclusion of physical activity (PA) effects into economic appraisal of transport initiatives means that transport policy is rarely used as a tool for population health.
The overall aim of the research will be an in-depth look at the role, impact and cost-effectiveness of transport interventions for obesity prevention. The research forms part of the broader work of the Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Obesity Policy.
A systematic review of economic analyses of active transport interventions that include PA benefits has been completed.
Economic evaluation of a number of transport interventions will be undertaken, using a model that incorporates PA, injury and environmental health impacts.
The systematic review found that a limited number of evaluations worldwide incorporate PA related health impacts into transport appraisal. In those that did, it was demonstrated that transport interventions that encourage modal shift away from motorised travel to more walking and cycling can be cost-saving. Preliminary analysis however shows that the quantity and quality of evidence of obesity, PA or modal shift effect to inform economic evaluation is low.
The research will inform the extremely limited evidence base on the potential PA and obesity effects of transport behaviours. Results of the economic evaluations will be useful to transport, health and environmental decision-makers.