Car accident outcomes may be impacted by occupant weight

Jan 31, 2011

Obese individuals are at an increased risk of dying if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident

Obese individuals may be at an increased risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident, according to research published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The research shows morbidly obese individuals have more than a 50 percent increased likelihood of dying during a severe accident in comparison to their lighter counterparts.

University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences professor of emergency medicine and study author Dietrich Jehle says the research findings should change how car crash testing is performed.

"Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes, but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals," says Jehle. "If they represented our overweight American society, there could be further improvements in vehicle design that could decrease mortality."

In addition to being more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident, obese individuals often face higher life insurance premiums. Insurers frequently charge those who carry extra weight higher rates because of their increased likelihood of developing several life-shortening conditions.

Losing weight through proper diet and exercise is often recommended by medical professionals to improve a person's health. 

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