Print 128 comment(s) - last by 0ldman.. on Aug 18 at 12:33 AM

Americans are using more fuel because they weigh so much.  (Source: Healthy Me!)
"If you see me coming your way/Better give me plenty space"

Americans these days are living big, though not necessarily in a good way. Even as some people in America turn to healthier lifestyles, obesity rates continue to soar upwards.  That's frustrating news not only for doctors, but for transportation engineers as well.

We already covered how obesity was costing the U.S. airline industry $275M USD more a year in fuel use.  But according to
Consumer Reports, it's not the only transportation industry to buckle under the America's growing mass.

The publication cites a 2006 study which indicates that for every pound added to the national average passenger weight, 39 million more gallons of fuel are used.  In total, over 1 billion gallons of fuel a year (about 0.7 percent of the nation's total use) can be attributed to fat.

Other studies show that the effect, while small, may be larger than those previous estimates.  Non-profit company Resources for the Future in 2009 showed that between 1999 to 2005 a 10-percent increase in overweight and obese drivers reduced fuel economy of new vehicle demand by 2.5 percent.

The report also comes to the more controversial conclusion that obesity is driving SUV, van, and pickup truck purchases.  It attributes much of the rise in this sector from 16 percent of total sales in the 1970s to over 40 percent today as being the result of passengers seeking cars to deal with their growing size.

Another study, which we previously covered, comes to the conclusion that obese drivers are more likely to be injured during car wrecks despite their extra mass apparently overcoming whatever padding their flab provided.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in America obesity rose 1.1 percent from 2007 to 2009 -- meaning that roughly 2.4 million people entered the category for the first time.  Plus the number of states with over 30 percent obesity rates jumped from three to nine.

Consumer Reports suggests both that Americans need to lose weight and that plus-sized crash test dummies need to be implemented to better protect those who haven't lost weight yet.

There's not always an easy answer for obese drivers.  An Edmonton, Alberta Kia dealer last year was forced to inform a woman who purchased a Kia Rio that she might be too heavy for it.  The sedan was pulling towards the left.  The dealership tried to correct it, to no avail, but eventually gave up, realizing the laws of physics were stacked against them; the driver had too much mass.  


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RE: Significant?
By rcc on 8/12/2010 2:57:37 PM , Rating: 4
It is perhaps unfortunate the the study didn't also cover the effects of the unnecessary junk that people haul around on a regular basis because it's a pain to take it out when you'll need it again in a week/month/etc.

Also, lets ban driving above 40 MPH with the windows down, the extra drag is burning unnecessary fuel.

I think everyone can agree that we should all watch our weight for our own health. But studies like this are fruitless wastes of money. Of course additional weight in a given vehicle is going to require more fuel.

And, because so many people here seem to prefer off-the-wall, over-the-top statements and questions in posts. How any starving people could this money have fed? And how many man hour of time was spent that could have been used for something useful?

As far as the lady in the Kia goes, when you are seriously overweight there are some things you just don't do. Buy furniture at Walmart and Ikea, or buy cheap cars, sit on the side of a rowboat. And a lot more really common sense stuff.

Then again, if you have an IQ of 70, would you sign up for calculus classes?

RE: Significant?
By tedrodai on 8/12/2010 10:00:32 PM , Rating: 3
This means I have to take my 2 45 lb. dumbells out of the car now, don't I? =(

I just never know when I'm gonna need them!

RE: Significant?
By rcc on 8/13/2010 12:14:23 PM , Rating: 5
What an unkind thing to call your children!!!

RE: Significant?
By Hoeser on 8/16/2010 11:18:17 AM , Rating: 2
Also, lets ban driving above 40 MPH with the windows down, the extra drag is burning unnecessary fuel.

I have yet to own a vehicle where it was less efficient to drive with the windows down than with the A/C on. Most modern cars and light trucks are still far more efficient with their windows down than with their AC compressors running...

I monitor fuel consumption every time I get in the car (2007 A4 Quattro 3.2) and I gain about .5-7 L/100km of consumption with the AC on vs .1-2 with the windows down at 110KM/h. I did the same test with my other car (2009 Jetta TDI) and the impacts were very similar... way more efficient with the windows down.

Maybe you expect people to run with the windows up with the AC off?.. In Southwestern Ontario, in the summer, that is simply not an option.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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