Obesity Enhances Risk In Car Accidents

Obesity is a serious concern in the United States. In addition to a host of health problems associated with obesity, a recent study has concluded that obese people are more likely to die in a car accident than non-obese people. The study appeared in the Emergency Medicine Journal and used data gathered from more than 57,000 crashes between 1996 and 2008. It raises questions about the safety of passenger vehicles for people who are overweight or obese.

The study showed that the more obese the person, the greater the likelihood that an accident would be fatal. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. People with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 had a 21 percent greater risk of dying in a car accident. For those with a BMI between 35 and 39.9, the rate was 51 percent higher than that of normal weight people. Having a BMI of 40 or higher increased the risk of dying in a car accident by 80 percent.

There are several factors that may play a role in the increased fatality risk. A study conducted last year showed that obese people are less likely to wear seat belts than normal-weight people. It has long been established that not wearing a seat belt increases the odds of dying in a car accident. Given the increasing numbers of obese people in the U.S., automakers should consider ways to make it easier for larger drivers and passengers to buckle up.

Obesity comes with other health concerns that may reduce the likelihood of surviving a crash. Regardless, it is clear that the methods used to increase the survivability of a car wreck are less effective for heavier people. Hopefully more can be done to protect all drivers and passengers in the event of a collision.

Source: Huffington Post, “Car Crashes Are Deadlier For People Who Are Obese, Study Suggests,” 23 January 2013