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The tracking of active travel and its relationship with body composition in UK adolescents

By Catherine L. Falconer, Sam D. Leary, Angie S. Page and Ashley R Cooper


AbstractBackgroundTo examine the tracking of active travel through adolescence, and its association with body mass index (BMI) and fat mass at age 17 in a UK cohort.MethodsWe analysed data collected from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The analyses include all participants with self-reported travel mode to school at ages 12, 14 and 16 years, and measured height, weight and body composition at age 17 (n=2,026). Tracking coefficients were calculated for individual travel behaviours (including walking and cycling) through adolescence using Generalised Estimating Equations. Linear regression analyses examined associations between travel pattern (consistently passive, consistently active, active at two time points or active at one time point), BMI, and DXA-measured fat mass (expressed as internally derived standard deviation scores) at 17 years. Analyses were adjusted for height (where appropriate), sex, age, parental social class, and maternal education with interaction terms to assess sex differences.ResultsThere was substantial tracking in active travel through adolescence, with 38.5% of males and 32.3% of females consistently walking or cycling to school. In males, a consistently or predominantly active travel pattern was associated with a lower BMI SD score at age 17 (consistently active: adjusted β=−0.23; 95% CI −0.40, −0.06; active at two time points: adjusted β−0.30; 95% CI −0.50, −0.10) compared to those with a consistently passive pattern. No associations were seen in females.ConclusionsMaintenance of active travel behaviours throughout adolescence may help to protect against the development of excess BMI in males. In addition to encouraging the adoption of active travel to school, public health messages should aim to prevent drop out from active travel to promote good health in youth

Publisher: The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jth.2015.09.005
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