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Fat People More Likely to Die in Car Crashes

Updated on December 22, 2010

We all know that there are certain fatal conditions that are more likely to affect people who are obese than people who are of average weight. Risks of death from diabetes and heart conditions, for example, are commonly increased for people who are obese. However, did you know that you are also more likely to die if you’re in a car crash and are obese than if you’re in a car crash and are of normal weight? Most people don’t know this but that’s what a recent study seems to prove.

The study looked at fatal car accidents and assessed how the risk of death was related to the weight of the individuals involved in the accidents. What the study found was that people who are considered morbidly obese (based on a Body Mass Index of 40+) are 56% more likely to die in a car crash than someone of average weight. People who are obese but not morbidly obese (and so have a BMI of between 35 and 39) are about 20% more likely to die in a car crash than someone of average weight.

Why? The biggest reason is because people who are very overweight are sitting practically right on top of the steering column of the car. They have less time to slow down before actually hitting the column in an accident because their bigger girth puts them so much closer to it. This is commonly fatal.

However, skinny people shouldn’t start smiling too quickly. That’s because they have their own problems to contend with that can also lead to an increased likelihood of death in car accidents. The study found that people who are considered underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5) are more likely to die in car accidents than people of average weight. This is due in part to the other medical conditions they may suffer from as a result of being too thin. It is also due to the fact that they lack any body cushioning to protect themselves from injuries in a car crash.

Speaking of body cushioning, the study did reach the interesting conclusion that it’s better to be a little bit overweight than to be a little bit underweight. In fact, people who are only slightly overweight are actually less likely to die in car crashes than people of normal weight. If you have a BMI between 25 and 29 (typically meaning that you have a few extra pounds but not too many) then you’re in the category of people least likely to die in a car crash. The extra padding of a slightly bulging tummy can serve to cushion you in an accident and protect you from injuries.

Of course, it would be nice if we could all be the perfect weight, but people who are obese probably aren’t going to rapidly lose weight. So what can you do to protect yourself in a car crash if you are severely overweight? First, consider getting a larger car since smaller vehicles are more likely to be unsafe for you. Second, push the seat of your car as far back from the steering wheel as you can (while still driving safely). And be aware of the problem so that you can drive carefully and protect yourself from harm!

Source: LiveScience


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  • katrinasui profile image

    katrinasui 7 years ago

    Very interesting and useful hub. Thanks for writing hub on such a useful topic.

  • fucsia profile image

    fucsia 7 years ago

    Very interesting Hub! Thanks for sharing... When I read the title I throught that maybe the fat people have more likely to die in car crashes becouse they can fall asleep more easly while driving.... I never imagined the real reason!

  • Triplet Mom profile image

    Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

    Interesting hub. I am not sure why this study was done or how they could prove this. It seems that each and every car accident would have different factors. I am not sure how much of this I believe. I think that no one would want to be in a car accident period regardless of weight. Maybe they should do a study on the difference between those who are taller and shorter since shorter people have to sit closer to the steering column as well. Thanks for the hub, makes for an interesting discussion.

  • SteveoMc profile image

    SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

    I had no idea! Another reason to work on that diet.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Interesting view of the ideal weight.