The over 60s free bus pass scheme should be protected thanks to its health benefits, research claims.
Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found older people who used public transport or who took advantage of the bus pass in 2004 were 25% less likely to be obese in 2008 than those who did not.
Furthermore, they were also more than 20% less likely to become obese between 2004 and 2008.
Although weight gain was seen in all groups analysed between 2004 and 2008, increases in weight and waistline were greater among those participants not eligible for a bus pass.
People in England aged 60 and over have been entitled to free off-peak travel on buses since 2006.
The estimated cost of the policy stood at £943m in 2009 and the government is now planning to cut the scheme in a bid to save money.
"Concessionary schemes, such as free local bus travel for older people, have an impact upon use of public transport and consequently on population health. These schemes should be protected in future policy," conclude the authors.
Researchers analysed 9,000 people from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in 2004,2006 and 2008 to find out whether changes in the use of public transport had any impact on weight gain.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"Definitely YES free bus pass scheme for the over 60s should at all times be retained. The pass is given to the deserving - persons who on the whole have worked in this country for many years and do deserve something back in their later years particularly to encourage continuing socialisation stimulates mental alertness and more importantly encourages physical
activity. Much used by the retired to get out and about independent of others. I however feel the free pass for children over 10 yrs old should be taken away particularly if we are to reduce the ever increasing excessive weight gain among the young" - V Henry, London
"A lot of my older patients rely on the free bus to get them to the shops they meet people who travel regular on the bus and chat it makes them feels less isolated if they live on there on there own and enjoy walking to and from the bus stop and around the shops. Keep the PASS" - Angel Leach, Wirral
"Yes, if they have a bus pass they will frequently going to the outside, eg shopping centre and walk more then an hour, every one should have the free bus pass after 60. Let them enjoy it" - Noshaba Bibi, London
"Definitely. This will encourage older people to walk more and meet other people with varying experiences and other pensioners to enrich their lives rather than staying home and become isolated and may become depressed. After all retirement is for enjoyment and to stay healthy. Free
Bus Pass should not be abolished" - Patricia Chan, Enfield
"I am a user of the Free Bus Pass AND I definitely am going out more, participating a lot more in outdoor activities organised by local council groups. This pass SHOULD NOT BE ABOLISHED AT ALL" - Puvan Markandoo, London
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