Study: Dallas Workers' Long Commutes Are Making Us All Fat and Diabetic

Categories: Transportation

Commute.JPG
Wikipedia
If this looks like your commute, you probably live too far away.
Nothing says Dallas quite an unbroken line of cars inching down a four-lane freeway from far-flung suburbs, wrapping themselves and the rest of the city in a shroud of exhaust. We live for this stuff. Why else would Dallasites spend 58 hours per year in traffic?

Apparently, though, our love of traffic jams (and our penchant for living unsustainably far from our workplaces) isn't very good for us, at least according to a study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study followed 4,297 people, mostly in the Dallas area, and correlated the distance of their commutes with such things as waist size, body mass index, cholesterol levels, etc.

The resulting paper, snappily titled "Commuting Distance, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Metabolic Risk," essentially found that people who drive a long way to work are fatter and have higher blood pressure.

Specifically, workers who travel more than 15 miles to work are about seven percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure and be obese. Those, in turn, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

I called up the study's main author, Christine Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, to ask: Hey, what's your problem with Dallas anyway? If you're so concerned with fat Texans, why not try San Antonio?

When Hoehner mentioned she grew up in Farmer's Branch it became clear: she must be a self-loathing Dallasite. During our conversation, she repeatedly cast aspersions on the city, calling it "car-centric" and "ranked among the top five congested cities" in the country.

But motives aside -- Hoehner said the drivers, almost all of whom are white dudes, were selected because they were already participating in a broader health study at North Dallas' Cooper Clinic -- what does Hoehner suggest we do to keep our commutes from killing us? Should we all live in Frisco and bike to work? Sleep at the office? Raze the city and build a walkable urban paradise from the ground up?

Hoehner doesn't rule any of those out but recommends several: She recently cut her own commute from 38 miles to 2 1/2 and wears a pedometer. Those tied to an office can walk before or after work or take breaks during the day. Workplaces should be flexible in scheduling, allowing employees to avoid rush hour traffic, a la the Observer, where the employee handbook lists the official start time as "whenever the Advil kicks in."

One thing I'm pretty sure she meant to mention was toll roads. Build more of those things and your commute will be so easy, you'll probably live forever. (Sorry, Jim.)

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70 comments
mmarks
mmarks

Sorry, it's economically irresponsible to relocate for a job just so you can sweat for half an hour on the way to the office. I'd probably be suicidal if I sold my home to move closer to work and then got LAID OFF. This whole article is kind of pointless, if you ask me. Dallas isn't the worst (or even close to it) where traffic and commutes are concerned. I moved here from L.A. about five years ago, and L.A. has horrific traffic, pollution and the longest commutes of almost any city on earth with the possible exception of Athens, Greece. (Athens has better food and scenery, however.) I had a friend in L.A. who commuted 90 miles each way because his wife wanted to buy a house and they couldn't afford anything closer to the city than Beaumont, which is somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert. (Holy crap, I think I just forgot the subject of this article.)

triciaperry
triciaperry

I just now received my free product sample from name brand companies, quite a few of them from "Official Samples" online

Matt Decuir
Matt Decuir

I definitely agree with this. I realized it while I was still in undergrad at UNT. I was driving 3 times a week from Denton, to an internship in Uptown. Some days it would be an hour and half there, and an hour and a half back. I'd be so exhausted from trying to avoid accidents and trying to pay attention in traffic, that all I wanted to do when I got home from work was lay in bed and sleep. 

That's when I realized these long ass commutes were contributing to more societal problems than I e'er realized.

Now, I live in Plano, and commute to my job near Mockingbird Station via DART. And I'm the least stressed out I've e'er been before / after work, because I don't have to drive and sit in traffic for...minutes on end.

bvs
bvs

Help me with my math, please. You work 260 days a year. Divide 58 hours by 260 and I get .22 hours per day commuting. Just two hours a day would be 520 hours. Or did you mean to say 580 hours rather than 58?

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

The funny thing is even the folks who live in the more urban areas of Dallas drive their cars everywhere they go....then come on sites like this and scoff at the suburbanites for doing the same. I mean. You don't really think ALL those cars in the city are Frisco dwellers...now do ya? The stupidity of some of y'all is jaw-dropping!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

If i lived closer to my office in dowtown, that would make my wifes commute longer, and that just wouldnt be fair to her now would it

Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

When my wife worked in uptown, she started taking the DART from downtown Plano to Cityplace, then walking about 20 minutes to work.  She loved it both not having to face the traffic plus the fitness benefit of the walk.  Sadly, that job went away and now she works in Garland.  There just isn't a good DART route to that location.  So, back to the car ...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

While sitting in traffic, I enjoy looking at the 300 pound moose in the car next to me chowing down a sausage mcmuffin while chuggin a large coke while chatting on her blue tooth.  Inevitably, when she finishes that she reaches for the make up bag.  These are daily occurences. 

Daniel Diaz-Marta
Daniel Diaz-Marta

I just moved from Dallas to Monterrey Mexico. Here there are no tollroads, buses come every 5 mins.... Life is good.

Andrew Corey Howard
Andrew Corey Howard

It is the small things that matter. Trying transit a few days a week affords you the opportunity to walk a few blocks. Riding a bike to the store instead of driving, having car free sundays with the family or walking the neighborhood and seating on the front porch. TV maybe a bigger contributor than the car... The little things add up. We can make this better!

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Most suburbanites think diabetes is a small price to pay to live in a homogeneous community.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Whoa, man!  The guy's a writer, not a math whiz.  If he was good at math, he might have ended up in a grown up job instead of journalism.

Besides, he's new.  Try to give him a couple weeks to acclimate before dropping difficult tasks on him.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I have to drive my big dually truck everywhere I go for work.  About a 1/4 of the time, I actually need it.  But, whenever possible I walk, bike, or take the wife's minivan.  But, I go days without crossing LBJ, 30 or Central

RSF
RSF

As a resident of East Dallas near Lakewood, I don't.  I buy gas about once per month and have driven 109,000 miles since the start of 1995. Most of the time I never get on a freeway. To me, it's jaw-dropping that anyone would do that to himself every day.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

eggsactly, Dallas' climate is such that it doesnt set up well to be a walkable bikeable city.  I mean, who wants to walk 2 miles in their suit when its 100 degrees.

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

 Why do men hate fat women so much? More than fat men. I don't get it.

Mss1506
Mss1506

 It aint rocket science- fewer calories taken in, more calories burned = weight loss.  And don't start that crap about no time, quit watching all the crap TV and take a walk with your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife's boyfriend whatever;..just get some exercise.

winpak14
winpak14

You should start a nature show. "Observe the Dallas commuter in their native habitat. Feeding is done on the go. Followed by grooming."

Fletch
Fletch

With the exception of the cartel violence.  Nah...I'll take my chances with the commute.

observist
observist

"homogeneous" means "white", right?

RTGolden
RTGolden

Most people with any amount of common sense laugh their ass off at these urbanite vs. suburbanite skirmishes.  The relationship is symbiotic, neither would survive, in the fashion they exist now, without the other.  To pretend otherwise is simply idiotic.

Guest
Guest

I don't know. I was excited when I figured out that my street didn't have two white families living next to each other. But then the African-Americans next door moved and a couple of hippie-looking white kids moved in and ruined the whole pattern.

But there are still plenty of African-American and Hispanic families living on my block (the neighborhood overall is probably 60% to 65% white).

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Most urban residents think pomposity is a virtue.

Cbd
Cbd

Most folks don't wear a suit to work these days, so that is a nonissue.

 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

well she clocks in at DFW airport, but she generally works in the air

chasd00
chasd00

fat girls need love too, but they got to pay! - quagmire

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

who said I hate fat women?  In fact, the bigger the girl the better the bj!  Gooddaytoya

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Is that what it means? My bad, I take it back then, I thought it meant really smart gay people.

observist
observist

Brain to Heart: If it weren't for me telling you what to do, you would stop beating!Heart to Brain: If I didn't send you oxygenated blood, you would stop functioning!

Guest
Guest

And most suburbanites don't realize that without us Dallasites, their pathetic little subdivision and chain restaurant centric lifestyle wouldn't be possible.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

really, walk really slow in 90 temps in the concrete cbd and you will sweat right through your slacks and undershirt.  If you really live or work down here you would see that about 90% of people walking around are at least business casual.  I certainly dont want to sweat my balls off before I get into the office

Cbd
Cbd

Yes, shorts, T-shirts, sensible clothes for our environment.  Shoot even when you need to dress up a bit, walk a touch slow and it's not unbearable till is 110.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

But, they still have to wear clothes. So, for quite a lot of folks, it still is, an issue. Just take a look at them busses....they ain't too full.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 There are West Dallas neighborhoods that aren't too terrible.  A pretty high placed guy at this blog seems intent on sending his kid through there.  The commute from there for both of you would be 20 mins.  And, there is a vast diversity of homes/neighborhoods there, any price range you'd like.

scottindallas
scottindallas

funny thing is their hygine is either impeccible, or immaculate; nothing in between.

observist
observist

I bet the homo genius community has some of the lowest rates of obesity and diabetes in the metroplex.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Again, check the Area for Woodrow, or WTWhite.  The smaller the school, the better the liberal arts; the bigger, the better the science and math.

Mickister
Mickister

Here's the problem for all of those suburbanites.  Those are nice schools, but a young professional family of four might have about $200-$250K to spend on a home.  (According to Trulia, during the last two months the median price for a home sold in Frisco was $211K.)

By way of comparison, in the area around Hillcrest, there are only 14 homes between $200K and $250K listed as available on Trulia.  Most of those are foreclosures, or are apartments or homes under 2,000 square feet.  For the same area around Frisco High School, there are 65 homes available in the same price range.  Most were built in 1999 or later and are over 2,000 square feet.

A family of two young professionals with two kids who want three or four bedrooms and a two car garage, that's either going to be unobtainable in Dallas proper, or it's going to be a neighborhood they don't want to raise kids in.

I write all of this to say that people aren't trying to thwart the objectives of others by choosing to live where they do.  Different people at different points in their lives with different goals assign varying weights to what they want in a home. 

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

So, then all these suburban families can send their kids there? Overcrowding wouldn't be an issue? 

Sam
Sam

W.T. White, Woodrow Wilson and Hillcrest show up well in national rankings based on AP and beat many suburban schools. Woodrow also has IB, something not offered in many suburban high schools.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

A lot of it stems from having to live with have a city we hold dear chopped up by a bunch of highways to enable a suburban lifestyle. If suburbanites put a stake in the Trinity tollroad and find a way to re-route 75, 30, and 45 out of the middle Downtown we can all get along just fine.

chasd00
chasd00

I'm pretty sure this not a single standard-issue non-magnet HS in DISD that can hold a candle to what you would find in Coppell, Allan, or Frisco.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 there are many neighborhoods in Dallas that compare very favorably to the suburbs on every single category, on affordability, schools, crime, and even race.  I suppose the city pride/resentment is overblown; though I'm heartened to know that we share enmity for Addison.  We hated Addison when that was the "suburb" we were talking about.

observist
observist

Impossible.  Dallas will never have the abundance of lakes, rivers, forests, beaches and outdoor recreation that are conveniently available to Detroiters.

Mickister
Mickister

 Don't bring up Detroit.  You'll cause Jim Schutze and his bag of nonsense to show up, and no one wants that.

Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

And many Dallasites don't realize that without the money suburbanites spend in Dallas shopping, eating, and attending entertainment events, Dallas would be Detroit.

Mickister
Mickister

 I don't get the hatred Dallas residents have for the suburbs.  The folks in the suburbs want a community with low crime, good schools, quiet neighborhoods, and affordable houses. 

Do some of those suburbanites perhaps think from time to time, "Man, I'm glad I don't have to deal with any blacks/Hispanics/poor people living in my neighborhood"?  Yeah, they probably do.  I can't justify that.

But they don't go home from work everyday thinking, "I'm glad I'm not some snobby, faux-countercultural liberal arts major living in an overpriced apartment in Dallas."  They don't think about it.  They don't care.  But for some reason, Dallas folks sure are glad they're not racist, conservative, nuclear family, church-going, business majors living in Collin County. 

If you need to direct your hatred towards someone, may I suggest the 21-45 y/o single male living in or near Addison.

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