Calorie count driven up by long and stressful commutes to work

Our commute to work could add an extra 800 calories to our diet every week.

Wondering why you’re piling on the pounds? Apparently your journey to and from work could be the reason you’re overweight.

Commuting adds an average of almost 800 calories to people’s diets every week, according to a new research.

A report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that travelling to and from work by car is associated with stress, higher blood pressure and an increased body mass index – and could even shorten lives because of these problems.

In addition, having to suffer through long journeys to work reduces the time available for healthy activities such as exercising, cooking and sleeping.

Commuters also tend to grab food and go – or even comfort eat during a stressful trip.

A poll of 1,500 workers, which also looked at the habits of those who commute by train and bus, found that they add an average of 767 calories to their diets each week.

The poll asked people whether they ate one or more of 12 different items during their journey and, using their responses, calculated the average number of calories.

Around a third (33%) of people also admitted to snacking more and eating more fast food because of their long journey.

The most popular item people ate during their commute was a chocolate bar, closely followed by crisps. Other items included muffins, fizzy drinks and alcohol.

RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “For some of us the daily commute can be a pleasurable experience, giving time for reflection or an opportunity to relax. But for an increasing number of us it is having a damaging effect on our health and wellbeing.

“The longer the journey time, the worse the impact has on us because it causes stress, adds to our waistlines or eats into time we could otherwise spend doing activities which would enhance our health and wellbeing, such as sleep, exercise or time spent with friends or family.”

The average commuter spends 55 minutes a day travelling to and from work, according to the TUC. About three million people have a commute of two hours or more a day, a TUC study suggested last year, while nearly 900,000 have journeys of three hours or more.