Is there a link between obesity & car driving? Studies show that a person who drives an average of 7,400 miles a year is 15% more likely to be obese. That figure doubles for long-distance commuters that traverse 12,000 or more miles each year.
Because the average person puts 13,476 miles a year on their car, this means most people are at an increased risk of obesity just from relying on vehicles to get around.
This post is designed to be a health resource that helps you better understand the potential risk factor of active community, annual vehicle miles, and obesity rates.
Why Your Driving Habits Matter in Your Health
When we explore the question, “Is there a link between obesity & car driving?”, we have to first think about why driving makes someone more likely to gain weight. Is it simply because they move by foot less than someone who doesn’t have a car? Or does driving relate to other unhealthy habits, like easier access to fast food thanks to drive-thrus and easy takeaway?
We decided to explore exactly what the connection between the rising obesity epidemic, car commuting, and adverse health outcomes. Because so many people rely on vehicles to commute in their daily lives, it’s important to assess whether driving is a risk to public health and what people can do to lower their increased risk of weight gain.
The Link Between Obesity and Driving
Frequent Drivers Are More Likely to Be Obese
Compared to normal weight individuals, people who drive frequently are at an increased risk of a high body mass index. Their time spent behind the wheel can also elevate their risk of obesity-related health problems, like diabetes mellitus and heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Calgary studied drivers in 10 different countries to find out if there was a connection between time spent in a car and higher body mass index. They found that in 8 out of 10 countries, increased sedentary behavior was linked to a higher risk of obesity.
The study, which was conducted between 2007 and 2008, found that just 30 minutes of daily driving was associated with obesity. This means people who opt for means of active transportation, like walking, biking, or riding a scooter, are at a lower metabolic risk.
The Driver’s Diet
The Calgary study also noted that frequent driving led to more stops at drive-thrus, where unhealthy, high-fat meals are the standard. People who drive often are more likely to eat quick, grab-and-go meals than those that have a more active commute.
A global study in 2019 found that poor diets are responsible for more deaths each year than smoking. People who are opting for fast food, coffee drinks, and other accessible takeaway items are, therefore, at an increased risk of weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues.
It’s Not Inevitable: How to Prevent Driving-Related Obesity
What can be done to combat the issue? There are three things we can consider: exercising more, driving less, and eating better.
Combatting Commutes With Exercise
The World Health Organization recommends that adults 18 to 64 years old exercise for 150 to 300 minutes each week. It also suggests people perform muscle-strengthening exercises that target all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Unfortunately, modern statistics reveal that the average American walks between 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day—well below the recommended 10,000 steps-per-day guideline.
To offset the negative effects of driving, people can start working out more to lower their body mass index. A healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; getting enough physical activity is the easiest way to ensure your weight stays within limits.
By opting for more active transportation, people can save money on gas, get more exercise, and put fewer miles on their cars. Staying physically active can be a part of your daily routine if you walk or ride a bike to work. You can also take public transport if you live in a city.
In many cases, people can lower their increased obesity risk simply by making small changes. Instead of driving 5 minutes down the road, ride a bike instead. You can even strap on some rollerblades, skateboard, or use a scooter.
Motorized transportation opens the door for so much; you don’t have to get rid of your car altogether to live healthily. But you should consider where you’re over-dependent on passive transportation and find safe ways to get around without it whenever you can.
In addition to increasing physical activity, people can also lower their risk of obesity by eating a healthier diet. For drivers, this means having balanced meals and healthy snacks on hand and avoiding pit stops at drive-thrus for a quick fix on the road.
One driver-friendly product to try is Ensō Supergreens, an organic superfoods powder that contains your entire daily dose of leafy greens. Add a scoop to a smoothie or mix it with water. We highly recommend looking for products that support a low-sugar, natural-fat diet. Instead of eliminating good food, you really have to increase your intake of whole foods and organic ingredients.
Ensō also makes some of the best superfoods powder for weight loss. If you’re trying to cut back calories behind the wheel, they’re worth checking out.
The Bottom Line
Scientific evidence shows that driving often can make you obese, but it isn’t the only factor that influences weight gain. Lifestyle and diet are the two biggest factors that influence someone’s BMI. If you want to lose weight or maintain your current one, consider opting for natural dietary supplements like Ensō Superfoods.