As Gas Prices Rise, Obesity Rates Fall

Thursday, June 26th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Can’t afford to drive, well, anywhere anymore? Rest assured there is a silver lining in your ever-empty gas tank. As gas prices creep higher and higher each day and $3.91 a gallon is suddenly “cheap gas”, Americans are starting to change their driving habits — and their exercise habits, too.

According to a study from Washington University in St. Louis, for every dollar increase in the average price of gas, levels of obesity in the United States would decline by 16 percent after seven years. With gas averaging over $4 a gallon, drivers are dusting off their helmets and taking their bikes whenever they can. The study also shows that the average person walks or bicycles an average of 0.5 times more per week if the price of gas rises by $1.

When (or if) gas prices ever decrease (or at least when they level off some time after Labor Day), will these healthy trends continue? Will people notice the positive difference less driving and more exercise is making in their lives, and not just the negative difference it is making in their wallets? Stay tuned.

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