It’s well known that sedentary living is associated with health risks. Now, researchers have been looking at motorized transportation dependence and its correlation with body fat and waist circumference.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2012; 43 [1], 1–10), used data from 3,853 participants in the China Health and Nutrition Survey. The data included information on motorized transportation use, physical activity levels, socioeconomic status and education, and adiposity.

“A longer period of having motorized transportation was independently related to a larger gain in weight and waist circumference in Chinese men after 7.8 years’ follow-up, when compared with those who never owned vehicles,” the authors reported. “The gain in weight and waist circumference was slightly more pronounced in men with higher income or from rural areas, but the difference compared with low income or urban areas was not significant.”

Among women, motorized vehicle use was associated with increased weight gain, but not with increased waist circumference. Also, the weight gain tendency was less pronounced among women than it was among men.

“Assuming that . . . sustained development affects all Chinese inhabitants, a small increase in active transportation may have the potential to prevent obesity in this population. An active lifestyle should be promoted for all, [through a combination of] increased active transportation patterns and leisure-time physical activity, to achieve the best health benefits,” the authors concluded.