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Business travel may be hazardous to health

NEW YORK, May 2 (UPI) -- People who travel for business two weeks or more a month are fatter and report worse health than employees who don't travel, U.S. researchers say.

Andrew G. Rundle and Catherine A. Richards of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York used data from medical records of more than 13,000 employees in a corporate wellness program. Nearly 80 percent of employees traveled at least one night a month and 1 percent traveled more than 20 nights a month.

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The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found business people who traveled 20 or more days a month have poorer health on a number of measures compared with those who travel between one to six days a month.

For example, heavy travelers had:

-- A mean body mass index of 27.5 vs. 26.1 for light travelers.

-- A mean high-density lipoprotein, the "good" cholesterol level of 53.3 vs. 56.1 for light travelers.

-- A mean diastolic pressure of 76.2 vs. 74.6 for light travelers.

Heavy travelers were 260 percent more likely than non-smokers to rate their health as fair to poor but that may be because employees who have health problems are less likely to travel, the researchers say.

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The study authors note that 81 percent of business travel is done in personal automobiles -- associated with long hours of sitting.

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