Thursday, August 19, 2010

U.S. Obesity Problem Impacts Automobile Safety and Fuel Economy

Consumer Reports reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report on obesity and found that there was a 1.1 percent increase (an additional 2.4 million people) in the self-reported prevalence of obesity between 2007 and 2009, plus the number of states with an obesity rate over 30 percent has tripled to nine states.

A detailed study published in 2006 at analyzed the amount of additional fuel consumed due to heavier drivers. One key finding was that almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline per year can be attributed to passenger weight gain in non-commercial vehicles between 1960 and 2002--this translates to .7 percent of the total fuel used by passenger vehicles annually. Researchers also estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel is used annually for every pound gained in average passenger weight. It is noted that while this is relatively small considering other factors such as more people on the roads, it is still a large amount of fuel that will continue to grow as the obesity rate increases.

One other result of the obesity problem is the increased risk of crashes as noted in a recent study and that is also due to the fact that obese drivers are less likely to buckle up because seat belts may not fit properly.

With the compounding factors, it is clear that the growing obesity issue is larger than once thought. So, what is the solution?

Have any thoughts or comments? Let us know below.

Read the complete Consumer Reports blog post.

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