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UCL expert to present children’s travel findings at safe routes to school conference

Publication date: Mar 14, 2006 4:11:17 PM

Roger Mackett, Professor of Transport Studies at UCL, will be presenting his paper, ‘The Health Benefits of Walking to School’ at the SUSTRANS national conference on championing safe routes to school: citizenship in action on Tuesday 23rd September 2003, at De Montfort Hall, Leicester. The conference, organised to examine all aspects of safe routes to schools and promoting walking and cycling to school, will be opened by Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

Professor Mackett’s paper, to be presented at this week’s conference forms part as a research project, which includes the analysis of children’s activity and travel patterns using motion sensors and travel and activity diaries, used for four days. From these it is possible to identify the numbers of calories that the children used in their various activities, including travelling to and from school. Information was obtained from 149 children in Years 6 and 8, divided evenly between boys and girls.

The study found that, overall, the older children are more active than the younger and that the boys are more active than the girls. The children are more active on weekdays than at the weekend. Over 90% of the children reached the recommended level of physical activity on the weekdays. At the weekends far fewer did so, with only just over 50% of the girls doing so on Sundays. It was found that the children who walk to school use many more calories than those who travel by car. The Year 8 children who walk use more calories in a week travelling to and from school than they would doing two hours of PE.

Professor Mackett comments: “There are a number of good reasons for more children to walk to and from school, particularly because it would benefit their health. This would help to address one of the major health problems facing Britain today: increasing obesity. It is hoped that our findings to be presented at the conference will help provide evidence upon which sound policy decisions can be made.”

Further information:

Professor Mackett is available for expert comment and analysis. To arrange an interview or obtain a copy of his paper, please contact Heidi Foden at UCL Media Relations 020 7679 7678 or h.foden@ucl.ac.uk