Background There is growing policy interest in the promotion of behaviours with health and environmental co-benefits, but little understanding of how such behaviours may be patterned together into healthy, sustainable lifestyles, and whether this varies among population groups. The aim of this study was to examine associations between engaging in different pro-health, low carbon travel and dietary behaviours, with a focus on gender differences.
Methods We analysed cross-sectional, self-reported data from individuals aged 16+ in England (n = 1,126) using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2009–2012 (nationally representative random clustered sample). Dietary data was collected using a 4-day food diary; travel data came from a self-completion questionnaire. We classified pro-health, low carbon travel behaviour as any walking and/or cycling for either work or non-work related journeys (active travel, AT), and pro-health, low carbon diets as those with higher levels of fruit and vegetable (FV) and lower levels of red and processed (RP) meat consumption. FV consumption was measured in average portions/day and divided into quintiles (5-category ordinal outcome). RP meat consumption was measured in average grams/day and divided into non-consumers plus consumers grouped into quintiles (6-category ordinal outcome). Gender-stratified ordinal logistic regression was used to examine associations between engaging in AT (yes/no) and each dietary outcome, and models were adjusted for individual, household, and area-level covariates. Sensitivity analyses assessed whether results were robust across different measures of AT.
Results Among men, engaging in any AT was positively associated with FV consumption (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.69, 95% CI 1.16–2.47) and negatively associated with RP meat consumption (aOR = 0.70, 0.46–1.05), though the latter result did not reach statistical significance. Among women, there was no evidence of associations between AT and consuming FV (aOR = 1.10, 0.77–1.57) or RP meat (aOR = 1.00, 0.71–1.40). Sensitivity analyses revealed that associations varied across different travel modes and types of journeys: men who active travelled for non-work journeys (compared to motorists) and women who cycled (compared to non-cyclists) both consumed significantly less RP meat (aOR = 0.65, 0.42–0.98; aOR = 0.31, 0.10–0.92, respectively), whereas only men who commuted actively (compared to motorists) consumed significantly more FV (aOR = 2.38, 1.26–4.49).
Conclusion These results suggest that the patterning of healthy, sustainable lifestyles differs by gender and is distinct across different types of travel and dietary behaviours. There are potential synergies (beneficial interactions) between different pro-health, low carbon behaviours in certain segments of the population, and these should be investigated further in larger studies with more detailed combinations of travel and dietary behaviour.
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