Feds spend $583,211 fighting obesity with odd experiment

In an effort to fight obesity, the National Institutes of Health is spending over $500,000 on a study designed to determine if riding the bus will help people lose weight.
Texas A&M is conducting the study in which residents of El Paso will be offered free rides on the bus to find out if they lose weight by walking to the bus stop.

According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Taxpayer-funded researchers call taking the bus to lose weight ‘innovative.’”

“Obesity, which poses a major risk factor for the onset or exacerbation of many chronic conditions in the U.S (e.g. cancer, diabetes, and heart disease), calls for innovative intervention approaches to promote physical activity as a major intervention strategy,” the grant for the project stated.

“Although a promising new form of transit that combines the capacity, speed, and reliability of a rail transit with the flexibility and cost advantage of a conventional bus system, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has never been rigorously studied for its health-promoting aspects,” the grant noted.

Researchers contended that using public transit is “associated with increased physical activity, and considered a promising approach to reducing the risk of obesity and other age-related chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.”

An app associated with the study will educate participants regarding the benefits of riding the bus and allow them to ride the bus for free. Participants will include 750 “exposed” people — defined as those who live within a half mile of a bus stop — and 500 “non-exposed” people who reside more than a mile away from a bus stop.

“There will be three waves of data collection in spring 2018, spring 2019, and spring 2021, respectively,” the grant stated.

Since beginning in March, the study has received $583,211 in taxpayer funding. The project is expected to continue through February 2023.