Trends in Australian children traveling to school 1971-2003: burning petrol or carbohydrates?

Prev Med. 2008 Jan;46(1):60-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2007.06.002. Epub 2007 Jun 7.


Objective: To determine how Australian children traveled to and from school between 1971 and 2003.

Methods: The 1971 (n=4284), 1981 (n=4936), 1991 (n=662) and 1999-2003 (n=816) Household Travel Surveys from the New South Wales Government Department of Planning were used to determine the mode of transport kids (5-14 years) took to and from school in the area of Sydney (Australia).

Results: The results showed that the percentage of children aged 5-9 that walked to school was 57.7, 44.5, 35.3 and 25.5 in 1971, 1981, 1991 and 1999-2003, respectively. The percentage of children aged 5-9 that were driven to school by car in the four surveys was 22.8, 37.3, 53.9 and 66.6, respectively. The results for children aged 10-14 were similar, walking decreased from 44.2% to 21.1% and car use increased from 12.2% to 47.8% over the study period. Similar results were found for travel from school and there were no major differences between boys and girls.

Conclusion: Between 1971 and 2003, Australian children's mode of travel to and from school has markedly shifted from active (walking) to inactive (car) modes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Automobiles
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Gasoline*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Odds Ratio
  • Schools*
  • Transportation / methods*


  • Gasoline