A recent study cited in the Emergency Medicine Journal (EMJ) concluded that folks who are obese are 80 percent more likely to die in car crashes than those who are thinner and interestingly, overweight women have more than double the risk.
According to the study's lead researchers, Thomas Rice, Ph.D. of the University of California at Berkeley and Motao Zhu, Ph.D. of the University of West Virginia, the obese person's excess soft body tissue winds up not allowing a seat belt to tighten on the body fast enough in the event of a crash, thereby causing the individual to be propelled from their vehicle more violently. The scientists explain further by stating, that the lower body of heavier drivers travels further forward in a crash before the seatbelt engages the pelvis, while the upper body is held back. This is because the frame of the obese driver has more padding or abdominal fat, which increases the time it takes for the belt to tighten on impact.
"The ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications, given the continuing obesity epidemic in the USA," wrote the study's authors.
The clinicians also pointed out in the study that typically, passenger vehicles are designed to protect those consumers who are within a normal weight range. On the flip side however, when it comes to safeguarding an obese person in the same passenger vehicle, there seems to be serious deficiencies. Drs. Rice and Zhu urge car manufacturers to take into consideration a U.S. population where one out of every three people are overweight, when they design their cars.
"The ability of passenger vehicles to protect overweight or obese occupants may have increasingly important public health implications, given the continuing obesity epidemic in the USA, the doctors state in EMJ.
On the extreme opposite end of the study, it was discovered that underweight male drivers were more likely to die behind the wheel than a man of average weight.
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