Trends in Australian children traveling to school 1971-2003: burning petrol or carbohydrates? Prev Med 46: 60-62

Author(s): van der Ploeg HP, Merom D, Corpuz G, Bauman AE


Objective: To determine how Australian children traveled to and from school between 1971 and 2003.

Methods: The 1971 (n=4284), 1981 (n=4936), 1991 (n=662) and 1999-2003 (n=816) Household Travel Surveys from the New South Wales Government Department of Planning were used to determine the mode of transport kids (5-14 years) took to and from school in the area of Sydney (Australia).

Results: The results showed that the percentage of children aged 5-9 that walked to school was 57.7, 44.5, 35.3 and 25.5 in 1971, 1981, 1991 and 1999-2003, respectively. The percentage of children aged 5-9 that were driven to school by car in the four surveys was 22.8, 37.3, 53.9 and 66.6, respectively. The results for children aged 10-14 were similar, walking decreased from 44.2% to 21.1% and car use increased from 12.2% to 47.8% over the study period. Similar results were found for travel from school and there were no major differences between boys and girls.

Conclusion: Between 1971 and 2003, Australian children's mode of travel to and from school has markedly shifted from active (walking) to inactive (car) modes.

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