Walking School Buses contribute to decrease in overweight kids
New Walking School Bus research shows Aucklanders are benefiting from more than just the annual reduction of 720,000 car
trips Walking School Buses generate. It shows school kids and adults alike love the daily physical activity of the
Dr Pat Neuwelt who completed the research for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand says, “ One third of New
Zealand’s primary school children are overweight. Lower physical activity levels of children contribute to this problem.
Walking School Buses help decrease obesity levels by enabling physical activity and shifting children’s attitudes about
walking, helping to improve the overall health of our children.
“The research found that many Auckland children want to walk to school and those on Walking School Buses view physical
activity as a natural part of life. Children’s attitudes to walking change when they walk on Walking School Buses.
“Walking School Buses offer a sociable and fun way to be active and healthy. Some school Principals also reported
potential benefits in the classroom, as walking bus kids tend to be better prepared for learning when they get to
Anna Percy, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s (ARTA) Manager Sustainable Transport said, “This research
further confirms that Walking School Buses are a very healthy and safe way for children to get to and from school.
“For ARTA, Walking School Buses are about reducing car use, helping kids develop road safety skills, and working with
local councils to make the roads safer for all pedestrians. And for the kids, it’s about friendship, fun and fitness.
“It’s encouraging to see how Walking School Buses are helping to change attitudes to active transport in the region. In
challenging the accepted norm of driving to school, young walking bus members and adult volunteers are reducing traffic
congestion and having fun at the same time,” said Ms Percy.
Over 3000 children and 1500 volunteer adults belong to Auckland’s 180 Walking School Buses. By comparison, a lane of
motorway running at peak capacity will move 2500 people an hour.
The research profiled a sample of Auckland Walking School Buses. It was commissioned by ARTA and conducted by Dr Pat
Neuwelt for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand in June 2005.
To get a copy of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand report: