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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: So What.
By WW102 on 8/12/2010 3:45:47 PM , Rating: 3
Hmmm...I think if I look at diabetes, heart disease, strokes, blood pressure, kidney problems, and I’m sure a multitude of other “conditions” that are a result of someone’s level of health, I think I would come out a head betting that the car accidents would cost less than the health problems related to their weight.


RE: So What.
By clovell on 8/12/2010 3:52:55 PM , Rating: 2
... and you'd bet right. You'd still miss the point, though.

The overall cost of Obesity is, in fact, not a cost. Fact is that it costs more to grow old and die from aging than it does to get fat and die young from obesity.


RE: So What.
By WW102 on 8/12/2010 4:15:49 PM , Rating: 5
I would bet right and still miss the point?

If you were to compare a health person living to 75 able to work and contribute society for say 45 years versus a unhealthy person who lives to 55 and contributes say 30 years of their life, the overall cost burden would be greater for the obese person versus the healthy person.


RE: So What.
By JediJeb on 8/12/2010 5:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
What about the people who are very thin, yet have all the same health conditions of the over weight people? Believe it or not, most of those conditions are not limited to over weigh people. Yes being overweight can increase your risk of such things as diabetes and heart problems but it is definitely not the only factor.

If you really want to keep over weight people from being a burden on the health care system, then just take the government totally out of paying for health care and leave it to individuals to pay their own way. That way noone else has to pay for the poor decisions of others, and if people wanted to save money on health care they would take steps on their own to live more healthy lives. As long as someone else is paying for health care why would people worry about how much it might cost them.


RE: So What.
By WW102 on 8/12/2010 6:19:43 PM , Rating: 1
If you see in my post below, I would agree that taking the government out of the equation is the best way to not make the life choices of others my problem.

As far as very thin people? I don't know if your talking about people with eating disorders or people thin compared to obese people. I think we should be thinking outside healthy. And if you ask what is healthy? We can look at that in terms of dollars. As I said before, we all get old, we all get sick and there is an associated cost with that. The problem is when we start having burdens. When we have the 80/20 rule. 80% of the money goes to 20% of the people. That is where the sociallized health care will become a problem. I think where it will get crazy is being taxed for doing things like eating french fries and milk shakes. If you think thats something the government can't impose an extra tax on, then I suggest you look up the new tax on people who tan. I don't tan, but I think its silly that we can tax that.

Now none of this relates to the one 25 year old guy who eats healthy exercises 4-5 times a week and gets sick for what most would call no good reason. If he does get sick and needs medical treatment then well he falls outside the norm of what happens. Its the people who make life style choices that effect what society has to pay to keep them going without an increase in contributions from that person.


RE: So What.
By Lerianis on 8/14/2010 12:02:16 AM , Rating: 2
No, it won't cause problems to have 80% of the money going to 20% of the people when you take into account that EVEN IF THOSE PEOPLE WERE STICK THIN, in most cases they would still have the health problems that they have.


RE: So What.
By WW102 on 8/16/2010 5:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Youre calling out "Stick Thin" people like we have a problem with people unable to stand due to the weight of their clothes on their small puny bodies. I don't know why we have to keep calling this point out, but yes I agree we have thin people. I agree you can have eating disorders ranging from not eating to over eating. However, if you bunched all the medical cost from over eating versus the medical cost from malnourishment the numbers wouldn't be even close.


RE: So What.
By WW102 on 8/12/2010 6:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
If you see in my post below, I would agree that taking the government out of the equation is the best way to not make the life choices of others my problem.

As far as very thin people? I don't know if your talking about people with eating disorders or people thin compared to obese people. I think we should be thinking outside healthy. And if you ask what is healthy? We can look at that in terms of dollars. As I said before, we all get old, we all get sick and there is an associated cost with that. The problem is when we start having burdens. When we have the 80/20 rule. 80% of the money goes to 20% of the people. That is where the sociallized health care will become a problem. I think where it will get crazy is being taxed for doing things like eating french fries and milk shakes. If you think thats something the government can't impose an extra tax on, then I suggest you look up the new tax on people who tan. I don't tan, but I think its silly that we can tax that.

Now none of this relates to the one 25 year old guy who eats healthy exercises 4-5 times a week and gets sick for what most would call no good reason. If he does get sick and needs medical treatment then well he falls outside the norm of what happens. Its the people who make life style choices that effect what society has to pay to keep them going without an increase in contributions from that person.


RE: So What.
By FITCamaro on 8/12/2010 7:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
You speak logic sir. Begone!


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