Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 3–9 | Cite as

What Is Driving Obesity? A Review on the Connections Between Obesity and Motorized Transportation

Etiology of Obesity (T Gill, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Etiology of Obesity


Purpose of Review

Traveling by automobile rather than walking or cycling can encourage obesity by eliminating physical activity. As national obesity rates in the USA have reached 37.9% in 2014, understanding the connections between obesity and transportation choices can help policymakers in the public health community propose effective obesity interventions at the national level.

Recent Findings

Following from foundational studies examining associations between the built environment and leisure walking, recent studies consider a diverse set of transportation choices regarding mode (e.g., automobile, walking, public transit) and purpose (e.g., commuting, leisure), along with studies on the effectiveness of several transportation-related interventions for obesity.


The reviewed studies point toward potential interventions for obesity; there is emerging evidence that commuting by public transit may be one such intervention. Moreover, new data-gathering tools such as global positioning systems, geographic information systems, and accelerometers may alleviate statistical obstacles in conducting future studies.


Automobile travel Active travel Obesity Built environment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Douglas M. King and Sheldon H. Jacobson declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems EngineeringUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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