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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 Yawgm0th on 8/12/2010 5:47:19 PM , Rating: 2
So obese people contribute more to the economy that skin and bones exercise freaks by purchasing more gas and food stuffs.
That's ridiculous. Using more resources doesn't "contribute" to the economy. Simply because they spend more money on food and fuel doesn't mean they do anything for the economy.

Economic contribution is measured in output after resource use -- that is, what one produces compared to what one uses. I would wager obese people (not fat people; obese, specifically) contribute less as a group and less per-capita than the rest of society or "healthy" people as a group. Being obese means people are less able to work and produce output and use more resources (gas, food, materials and space for housing and transportation, etc). They might stimulate individual markets, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

Also, if you think people who are obese don't directly affect others, obviously you've never had to sit next to an obese person in a car, bus, plane, train, room, etc.

RE: So What.
By Ammohunt on 8/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: So What.
By tmouse on 8/13/2010 8:10:47 AM , Rating: 1
Also, if you think people who are obese don't directly affect others, obviously you've never had to sit next to an obese person in a car, bus, plane, train, room, etc.

I think smelly people directly affect us more in those situations; at least heavier people are buying things that allows others to make money producing them. Let’s be honest here the additional fuel costs are a drop in the bucket when you consider the weight added because of the amount of junk people keep in their cars all the time. Now add all of those "quick trips" for this or that, instead of one planned trip. Health care I will give you but this "fuel" argument is totally bullshite. Its equivalent of a mosquito humping an elephant and someone is planning to do a "study" to see if it is hurting the elephant. These types of "studies" probably hurt the economy more in wasted resources.

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