Trends in Australian children traveling to school 1971-2003: burning petrol or carbohydrates?
To determine how Australian children traveled to and from school between 1971 and 2003. 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). 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. Between 1971 and 2003, Australian children's mode of travel to and from school has markedly shifted from active (walking) to inactive (car) modes.