GOVERNING Healthy Commuting Habits Study

Results for Governing's analysis correlating commuting habits with obesity rates.

Governing's analysis of health and census data found a strong correlation between a metro area's overweight/obesity rates and the portion of a workforce walking or biking to work. Read our story on the findings, or view the methodology:.

Data

The Census Bureau’s 2010 American Communities Survey gauges means of transportation to work for various geographical areas. Survey respondents are asked to record the type of transportation used to travel the longest distance during their commute to work. It should be noted that since only a single transportation type for the longest distance can be counted, those walking or biking to rail stations would likely be recorded only as public transportation commuters. Totals for walkers and bikers were added for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and divided by the total number of residents age 16 and older who work (not including those working from home) to compute the total percentage of walkers or bike commuters.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks a multitude of health risk data for its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Using the body mass index (BMI), it groups people into three classifications: obese (30 or greater BMI), overweight (25-29.9 BMI) or neither overweight nor obese (BMI less than 25). For this study, the variable measuring populations considered neither overweight nor obese in 2010 was used.
 
CDC’s 2010 dataset included estimates for 192 geographic areas. Some of these estimates, such as those for micropolitan statistical areas and metropolitan divisions, were not measured in the census data. A total of 126 metropolitan statistical areas had data from both surveys, and these were used for the analysis.
 
Methodology
 
Governing performed a multiple regression test, with the estimated percentage of an MSA’s population considered neither overweight nor obese used for the dependent variable. The percentage of walk/bike commuters was tested, along with five other independent variables: median household income, percent of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, population density, unemployment and mean travel time to work. Data for all six variables was obtained from the 2010 American Communities Survey.
 
The regression test produced the following coefficients table:

coefficients-table.jpg

Dependent variable = Percentage of residents neither obese nor overweight
 
Correlations between healthy weight levels and those walking or biking to work, median household income and education were shown to be statistically significant at the .01 level. The education variable had the strongest effect on a population’s weight, followed by biking/walking to work and income.
 
A scatterplot illustrates the correlation between an MSA's percentages of walkers/bike commuters and those with healthy weights:
 
walk-bike-scatterplot2.jpg

 

Data

The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System measures obesity and other health factors. The table below shows 2010 estimates for each geographic region surveyed, most of which are metro areas. Click here for a complete list of areas in included in the 2010 survey, along with specific counties comprising each area.

The following definitions describe the data:

  • Healthy weight: Neither overweight nor obese
  • Overweight: Body mass index of 25-29.9
  • Obese: Body mass index of 30-99.8
  • No physical activity: Respondents reporting doing no physical activity or exercise in past 30 days


 
         
Area Healthy Weight Overweight Obese No Physical Activity
Atlantic City-NJ Metro Area 30.7% 42.5% 26.8% 27.8%
Austin-Round Rock-TX Metro Area 35.9% 37.1% 27.0% 19.3%
Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick-MD Metro Division 42.8% 37.3% 19.9% 17.3%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Tonawanda-NY Metro Area 37.9% 37.5% 24.7% 23.9%
Charleston-North Charleston-SC Metro Area 34.7% 36.4% 29.0% 25.4%
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord-NC-SC Metro Area 37.0% 35.0% 28.0% 22.6%
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet-IL-IN-WI Metro Area 38.8% 34.2% 27.0% 23.3%
Coeur d´Alene-ID Metro Area 35.5% 39.8% 24.7% 18.8%
Denver-Aurora-CO Metro Area 43.0% 37.4% 19.6% 16.2%
Durham-NC Metro Area 41.1% 32.4% 26.6% 22.0%
Edison-NJ Metro Division 38.5% 37.4% 24.2% 26.0%
Greenville-SC Metro Area 32.1% 33.9% 34.0% 26.5%
Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir-NC Metro Area 33.4% 41.7% 25.0% 30.2%
Kennewick-Richland-Pasco-WA Metro Area 33.4% 35.1% 31.5% 24.2%
Key West-Marathon-FL Micropolitan Area 46.0% 37.1% 16.9% 16.9%
Kingsport-Bristol-TN-VA Metro Area 29.9% 33.4% 36.7% 37.6%
Little Rock-North Little Rock-AR Metro Area 29.3% 36.0% 34.6% 23.8%
Louisville-KY-IN Metro Area 33.7% 35.1% 31.2% 25.2%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach-FL Metro Area 34.2% 37.5% 28.3% 24.1%
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach-SC Metro Area 32.2% 41.2% 26.6% 22.7%
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro-TN Metro Area 37.8% 37.4% 24.7% 26.7%
New Haven-Milford-CT Metro Area 38.8% 34.9% 26.2% 22.1%
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner-LA Metro Area 30.1% 37.2% 32.6% 26.9%
New York-White Plains-Wayne-NY-NJ Metro Division 40.5% 37.6% 21.9% 24.6%
Newark-Union-NJ-PA Metro Division 38.2% 37.9% 23.9% 26.1%
Orlando-Kissimmee-FL Metro Area 34.3% 37.4% 28.3% 25.3%
Panama City-Lynn Haven-FL Metro Area 34.1% 37.9% 28.0% 23.9%
Peabody-MA 41.0% 36.7% 22.3% 19.6%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale-AZ Metro Area 36.0% 41.1% 22.8% 18.5%
Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce-FL Metro Area 35.5% 36.5% 28.0% 22.1%
Portland-South Portland-Biddeford-ME Metro Area 37.6% 38.6% 23.9% 17.9%
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton-OR-WA Metro Area 40.3% 33.7% 26.0% 15.8%
Sacramento—Arden-Arcade—Roseville-CA Metro Area 40.9% 35.1% 24.0% 15.3%
Salt Lake City-UT Metro Area 41.8% 34.6% 23.6% 18.3%
San Antonio-TX Metro Area 36.7% 33.5% 29.8% 26.5%
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos-CA Metro Area 41.2% 32.8% 26.1% 19.0%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont-CA Metro Area 44.8% 36.9% 18.2% 17.4%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara-CA Metro Area 39.7% 39.1% 21.2% 17.0%
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine-CA Metro Division 43.1% 36.3% 20.7% 21.1%
Santa Fe-NM Metro Area 46.3% 32.9% 20.8% 17.9%
Scottsbluff-NE Micropolitan Area 27.9% 39.1% 33.0% 27.5%
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre-PA Metro Area 35.9% 35.7% 28.4% 32.8%
Seaford-DE Micropolitan Area 30.5% 37.7% 31.8% 25.8%
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett-WA Metro Division 42.3% 34.9% 22.8% 16.6%
Sebring-FL Micropolitan Area 35.5% 35.0% 29.4% 28.9%
Shreveport-Bossier City-LA Metro Area 33.2% 36.3% 30.4% 34.1%
Sioux City-IA-NE-SD Metro Area 32.6% 35.7% 31.7% 28.2%
Sioux Falls-SD Metro Area 33.3% 39.9% 26.8% 21.4%
Spokane-WA Metro Area 35.9% 39.7% 24.5% 18.3%
Springfield-MA Metro Area 41.2% 35.0% 23.8% 20.5%
St. Louis-MO-IL Metro Area 36.2% 33.9% 29.8% 25.5%
Wichita Falls-TX Metro Area 32.9% 39.2% 27.9% 28.6%
Wichita-KS Metro Area 38.5% 34.4% 27.1% 22.6%
Akron-OH Metro Area 38.2% 32.5% 29.3% 22.6%
Albuquerque-NM Metro Area 43.3% 34.9% 21.7% 18.0%
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton-PA-NJ Metro Area 37.5% 33.5% 29.0% 26.1%
Amarillo-TX Metro Area 35.0% 36.3% 28.7% 24.1%
Arcadia-FL Micropolitan Area 32.2% 33.7% 34.1% 35.1%
Asheville-NC Metro Area 37.3% 35.2% 27.5% 22.2%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta-GA Metro Area 37.4% 33.9% 28.7% 22.1%
Augusta-Richmond County-GA-SC Metro Area 31.1% 36.8% 32.1% 25.9%
Augusta-Waterville-ME Micropolitan Area 37.1% 33.4% 29.4% 22.3%
Baltimore-Towson-MD Metro Area 33.5% 38.4% 28.0% 24.0%
Bangor-ME Metro Area 31.1% 35.4% 33.5% 24.1%
Barre-VT Micropolitan Area 41.2% 36.9% 21.8% 16.1%
Baton Rouge-LA Metro Area 35.4% 32.2% 32.5% 25.7%
Billings-MT Metro Area 35.4% 37.4% 27.2% 24.0%
Birmingham-Hoover-AL Metro Area 33.7% 37.0% 29.3% 29.2%
Bismarck-ND Metro Area 39.4% 36.1% 24.5% 19.4%
Boise City-Nampa-ID Metro Area 38.0% 36.6% 25.3% 16.6%
Boston-Quincy-MA Metro Division 43.2% 34.8% 22.0% 21.5%
Bremerton-Silverdale-WA Metro Area 34.9% 36.3% 28.8% 15.3%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk-CT Metro Area 45.6% 37.8% 16.6% 18.8%
Burlington-South Burlington-VT Metro Area 42.3% 36.0% 21.7% 13.6%
Cambridge-Newton-Framingham-MA Metro Division 44.2% 35.2% 20.7% 17.3%
Camden-NJ Metro Division 34.7% 35.8% 29.5% 27.2%
Canton-Massillon-OH Metro Area 35.4% 36.3% 28.3% 26.6%
Cape Coral-Fort Myers-FL Metro Area 40.0% 34.2% 25.8% 27.9%
Casper-WY Metro Area 34.7% 37.7% 27.6% 23.2%
Cedar Rapids-IA Metro Area 41.1% 33.5% 25.4% 25.5%
Charleston-WV Metro Area 30.5% 37.3% 32.3% 31.4%
Chattanooga-TN-GA Metro Area 30.9% 38.6% 30.4% 32.2%
Cheyenne-WY Metro Area 33.8% 39.2% 27.0% 23.1%
Cincinnati-Middletown-OH-KY-IN Metro Area 38.1% 34.4% 27.4% 25.4%
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor-OH Metro Area 34.4% 40.9% 24.7% 22.7%
Colorado Springs-CO Metro Area 38.6% 37.8% 23.6% 19.1%
Columbia-SC Metro Area 32.9% 36.1% 31.0% 27.7%
Columbus-OH Metro Area 34.5% 35.0% 30.5% 26.3%
Concord-NH Micropolitan Area 36.5% 40.9% 22.6% 16.9%
Dallas-Plano-Irving-TX Metro Division 36.4% 29.8% 33.8% 26.4%
Dayton-OH Metro Area 35.0% 35.3% 29.7% 25.2%
Del Rio-TX Micropolitan Area 25.8%   32.9%  
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach-FL Metro Area 34.8% 38.0% 27.2% 23.7%
Des Moines-West Des Moines-IA Metro Area 35.1% 38.9% 26.0% 22.3%
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn-MI Metro Division 32.9% 34.0% 33.1% 28.3%
Dover-DE Metro Area 29.4% 38.8% 31.9% 30.4%
El Paso-TX Metro Area 30.2% 41.1% 28.6% 28.5%
Eugene-Springfield-OR Metro Area 39.9% 30.1% 30.0% 18.2%
Evansville-IN-KY Metro Area 37.0% 33.7% 29.3% 27.7%
Fargo-ND-MN Metro Area 37.8% 36.8% 25.4% 26.6%
Farmington-NM Metro Area 35.0% 31.4% 33.7% 22.9%
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-AR-MO Metro Area 38.5% 37.1% 24.4% 26.2%
Fort Collins-Loveland-CO Metro Area 50.2% 28.5% 21.3% 13.1%
Fort Wayne-IN Metro Area 30.9% 36.0% 33.2% 23.4%
Fort Worth-Arlington-TX Metro Division 30.3% 34.4% 35.3% 24.0%
Gainesville-FL Metro Area 43.8% 36.0% 20.1% 19.1%
Grand Island-NE Micropolitan Area 31.2% 39.9% 29.0% 26.2%
Grand Rapids-Wyoming-MI Metro Area 34.8% 38.7% 26.6% 19.3%
Greensboro-High Point-NC Metro Area 32.7% 38.6% 28.7% 23.4%
Hagerstown-Martinsburg-MD-WV Metro Area 34.3% 33.6% 32.1% 27.7%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford-CT Metro Area 38.0% 37.9% 24.2% 19.5%
Hastings-NE Micropolitan Area 33.4% 35.8% 30.8% 26.0%
Helena-MT Micropolitan Area 39.3% 39.6% 21.1% 18.4%
Hilo-HI Micropolitan Area 39.4% 33.9% 26.8% 19.2%
Hilton Head Island-Beaufort-SC Micropolitan Area 40.2% 37.5% 22.4% 19.0%
Homosassa Springs-FL Micropolitan Area 38.3% 38.0% 23.7% 22.7%
Honolulu-HI Metro Area 43.9% 34.2% 21.9% 19.7%
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown-TX Metro Area 36.9% 34.0% 29.1% 23.6%
Huntington-Ashland-WV-KY-OH Metro Area 30.6% 35.8% 33.5% 30.2%
Idaho Falls-ID Metro Area 35.9% 35.8% 28.3% 19.4%
Indianapolis-Carmel-IN Metro Area 36.2% 35.7% 28.2% 23.5%
Jackson-MS Metro Area 33.3% 33.5% 33.3% 31.5%
Jacksonville-FL Metro Area 38.6% 35.4% 26.0% 27.9%
Kahului-Wailuku-HI Micropolitan Area 37.1% 35.9% 27.0% 16.4%
Kalispell-MT Micropolitan Area 40.5% 41.2% 18.3% 20.4%
Kansas City-MO-KS Metro Area 34.5% 36.0% 29.5% 23.0%
Kapaa-HI Micropolitan Area 44.5% 31.8% 23.7% 16.5%
Knoxville-TN Metro Area 35.4% 34.1% 30.5% 29.1%
Lake City-FL Micropolitan Area 29.7% 39.1% 31.2% 28.0%
Lakeland-Winter Haven-FL Metro Area 29.0% 33.0% 37.9% 26.0%
Laredo-TX Metro Area 29.1% 37.6% 33.3% 34.2%
Las Cruces-NM Metro Area 32.0% 37.2% 30.8% 24.5%
Las Vegas-Paradise-NV Metro Area 39.6% 37.3% 23.1% 23.7%
Lebanon-NH-VT Micropolitan Area 40.2% 34.6% 25.2% 19.6%
Lewiston-ID-WA Metro Area 35.0% 38.3% 26.7% 22.3%
Lewiston-Auburn-ME Metro Area 38.2% 34.9% 26.9% 24.3%
Lincoln-NE Metro Area 37.4% 32.5% 30.1% 18.2%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale-CA Metro Division 37.5% 38.2% 24.3% 20.8%
Lubbock-TX Metro Area 35.3% 32.5% 32.2% 30.7%
Manchester-Nashua-NH Metro Area 39.7% 35.8% 24.5% 18.7%
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission-TX Metro Area 30.8% 35.8% 33.3% 36.0%
Memphis-TN-MS-AR Metro Area 28.9% 35.3% 35.8% 26.1%
Midland-TX Metro Area 38.5% 37.6% 23.9% 33.3%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis-WI Metro Area 39.1% 35.0% 26.0% 24.4%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington-MN-WI Metro Area 38.4% 36.7% 24.9% 17.1%
Minot-ND Micropolitan Area 30.8% 40.4% 28.9% 26.5%
Mobile-AL Metro Area 32.8% 33.6% 33.6% 30.3%
Naples-Marco Island-FL Metro Area 40.8% 36.4% 22.9% 13.6%
Nassau-Suffolk-NY Metro Division 41.3% 36.8% 21.9% 22.7%
Norfolk-NE Micropolitan Area 29.0% 38.4% 32.5% 28.3%
North Platte-NE Micropolitan Area 33.2% 34.6% 32.2% 28.8%
North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota-FL Metro Area 41.9% 36.4% 21.6% 21.6%
Ocala-FL Metro Area 32.5% 33.7% 33.8% 28.8%
Ocean City-NJ Metro Area 37.0% 37.6% 25.4% 24.9%
Ogden-Clearfield-UT Metro Area 39.6% 34.2% 26.2% 16.5%
Oklahoma City-OK Metro Area 35.1% 34.8% 30.1% 28.5%
Olympia-WA Metro Area 41.5% 33.7% 24.8% 15.2%
Omaha-Council Bluffs-NE-IA Metro Area 37.0% 37.2% 25.8% 23.7%
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville-FL Metro Area 31.4% 37.4% 31.3% 26.4%
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent-FL Metro Area 35.5% 35.0% 29.6% 25.5%
Philadelphia-PA Metro Division 39.9% 35.7% 24.4% 24.2%
Pittsburgh-PA Metro Area 35.0% 35.7% 29.3% 23.6%
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River-RI-MA Metro Area 35.7% 37.9% 26.4% 24.3%
Provo-Orem-UT Metro Area 44.3% 33.9% 21.8% 16.2%
Raleigh-Cary-NC Metro Area 37.1% 36.0% 27.0% 20.4%
Rapid City-SD Metro Area 32.3% 42.2% 25.5% 24.4%
Reno-Sparks-NV Metro Area 42.5% 36.8% 20.7% 19.1%
Richmond-VA Metro Area 32.8% 41.1% 26.1% 26.2%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario-CA Metro Area 35.1% 36.4% 28.5% 23.6%
Rochester-NY Metro Area 37.4% 34.5% 28.1% 19.0%
Rockingham County-Strafford County-NH Metro Division 37.1% 36.1% 26.8% 19.5%
Rutland-VT Micropolitan Area 36.2% 33.3% 30.5% 22.6%
Tacoma-WA Metro Division 32.3% 36.5% 31.2% 19.6%
Tallahassee-FL Metro Area 33.6% 39.9% 26.5% 22.1%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater-FL Metro Area 35.5% 38.2% 26.3% 22.1%
Toledo-OH Metro Area 31.1% 38.6% 30.3% 24.7%
Topeka-KS Metro Area 28.9% 35.0% 36.1% 22.3%
Trenton-Ewing-NJ Metro Area 43.3% 33.6% 23.1% 24.8%
Tucson-AZ Metro Area 41.6% 31.8% 26.6% 20.3%
Tulsa-OK Metro Area 33.6% 36.3% 30.1% 29.2%
Tuscaloosa-AL Metro Area 30.8% 38.0% 31.2% 31.0%
Twin Falls-ID Micropolitan Area 35.7% 33.2% 31.1% 25.4%
Tyler-TX Metro Area 39.5% 35.2% 25.3% 26.0%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News-VA-NC Metro Area 37.8% 32.0% 30.3% 22.8%
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills-MI Metro Division 34.4% 35.2% 30.4% 19.4%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria-DC-VA-MD-WV Metro 37.8% 37.0% 25.2% 19.3%
Wauchula-FL Micropolitan Area 17.6% 40.6% 41.8% 27.2%
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach Metro Division 39.9% 40.1% 20.0% 22.6%
Wilmington-DE-MD-NJ Metro Division 35.5% 34.2% 30.4% 23.5%
Worcester-MA Metro Area 39.1% 35.8% 25.2% 19.0%
Yakima-WA Metro Area 31.6% 37.0% 31.4% 25.1%
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman-OH-PA Metro Area 29.7% 35.5% 34.8% 26.4%

Alternative Means of Transportation Map

Governing compiled and analyzed 2010 American Community Survey estimates for means of transportation to work for metropolitan statistical areas. Separate data for more than 400 U.S. cities, towns and other census-designated places is shown on an interactive map. (Click to open map in new window).

Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.
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