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Free bus passes, use of public transport and obesity among older people in England


Background All residents of England aged 60 years and older became entitled to free travel on local buses on 1 April 2006. This study examines the impact of this policy on public transport use, a mode of active transport and levels of obesity.

Methods Logistic regression analyses using three waves of data (2004, 2006 and 2008) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Our main outcome measures were changes in self-reported public transport use, body mass index, waist circumference and obesity.

Results Eligibility for free bus travel was associated with increased use (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.51, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.00) of public transport among older people. Older people who used public transport had reduced odds of being obese in 2008 compared with those who did not (AOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.86), as did those who were eligible for free local bus travel (AOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.97). Older people who used public transport had reduced odds of becoming obese between 2004 and 2008 (AOR 0.79, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.98).

Conclusion The introduction of free bus travel for older residents of England appears to have increased public transport use and may have conferred a protective effect against obesity.

  • Obesity EPI
  • old age
  • transport RB

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