Beneficial association between active travel and metabolic syndrome in Latin-America: A cross-sectional analysis from the Chilean National Health Survey 2009-2010

Prev Med. 2018 Feb;107:8-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.12.005. Epub 2017 Dec 12.


Background: There is limited evidence on potential health benefits of active travel, independently of leisure-time physical activity (PA), with metabolic syndrome (MetS) in Latin-America.

Objective: To investigate the relationship between active travel and metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components in a national representative sample of Chilean adults.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of 2864 randomly selected adults' participants enrolled in the 2009-2010 Chilean National Health Survey (CNHS). Self-reported PA was obtained with the validated Global PA Questionnaire and classifying participants into insufficiently active (<150min/week) or active (≥150min/week). MetS was diagnosed from the modified Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III criteria with national-specific abdominal obesity cut points. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was applied to estimate associations of travel PA with MetS and its components at a regional level, adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics and other types of PA.

Results: 46.2% of the sample engaged in 150min/week of active travel and the prevalence of MetS was 33.7%. Mets was significantly lower among active travel participants. Active travel was associated with lower odds of MetS (OR 0.72; 95%CI 0.61-0.86), triglycerides (OR 0.77; 95%CI 0.64-0.92) and abdominal obesity (OR 0.82; 95%CI 0.69-0.97) after controlling for socio-demographics and other types of PA.

Conclusion: Active travel was negatively associated with MetS, triglycerides and abdominal obesity. Efforts to increase regional active travel should be addressed as a measure to prevent and reduce the prevalence of MetS and disease burden in middle income countries.

Keywords: Active commuting; Chile; Latin-America; Metabolic risk; Metabolic syndrome; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Chile / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Latin America
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Travel*