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Active Commuting to School Among Adolescents in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Change and Predictors in a Longitudinal Study, 2004 to 2009

      Background

      Active commuting (walking or cycling) to/from school is an important part of the overall physical activity levels of children but is on the decline in many countries. Data for adolescents on mode of transportation to and from school are limited for low- and middle-income countries, including Vietnam.

      Purpose

      This paper aims to describe the changes in the prevalence of active commuting to and from school, and to examine prospectively the predictors of active commuting, among adolescents from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

      Methods

      The data are from a 5-year cohort study from 2004 of a representative sample of 759 adolescents from 18 schools in HCMC. Data were obtained at five annual assessments using validated questionnaires to capture commuting behaviors, socioeconomic and demographic factors, individual and family characteristics, and physical and social environmental factors. Height and weight were measured by trained staff using standardized guidelines. Generalized linear latent and mixed models with a hierarchic approach were used to analyze the data in 2011.

      Results

      The results show a remarkable decrease in the prevalence of active commuting in adolescents from 27.8% in 2004 to 19.6% in 2009. Male students, from the least-wealthy families, living in suburban areas, close to school, studying at schools in less-wealthy districts, were more likely to actively commute.

      Conclusions

      In the context of an epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity in urban Vietnam, the decline in active commuting over the 5 years of this study highlights the need for development of urban physical environments favorable for active commuting and education campaigns to promote active commuting in adolescents.
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