Lead author Dr Anja Mizdrak, of Otago's Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity, and Cost-Effectiveness Programme (Department of Public Health), says transport has a major impact on population health.
"New Zealand is highly car dependent -- 79 per cent of all self-reported trips are made by car and ownership rates are among the highest in the world -- and only half of New Zealand adults meet national physical activity recommendations.
Road - Transport - Cent - Nation - Greenhouse
"Road transport also makes up 17.3 per cent of the nation's gross greenhouse gas emissions, so it directly affects injury rates, physical activity and air pollution, and indirectly affects health through climate change.
"Switching short trips to walking and cycling is a good way to incorporate physical activity into daily life and reduce carbon emissions associated with vehicle use," Dr Mizdrak says.
Study - Plos - One - Health - Impact
The study, just published in Plos One, is the first to estimate the health impact, and changes in health system costs and greenhouse gas emissions, associated with increasing active transport in New Zealand.
The researchers estimated changes in physical activity, injury risk, and air pollution for switching car trips under 1km to walking, and switching car trips under 5km to a mix of walking and cycling.
Analysis - Levels - Cent - Health - Gains
They used modelling to perform a "what if" analysis of uptake levels of 25, 50, and 100 per cent. From this, they estimated health gains and health system cost impacts of changes in injury risk, air pollution exposure and physical activity levels.
Health impacts across these different risks were combined into a common metric -- quality adjusted life years (QALYs) -- where one QALY represents a year lived in full health, which were calculated out over the rest of the life course of the New Zealand population alive in 2011 (4.4 million people).
Uptake - Levels - Health - Gains - QALYs
Depending on uptake levels: health gains ranged between 1.61 and 25.43 QALYs per 1000 people,...
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