Atlanta, GA- Southerners like their BBQ and fried food so it should be no surprise that many states in the South have high rates of obesity with over 20 percent of the population being 30 or more pounds overweight. And not only is this a detriment to their overall health, but a new study by UC Berkley found that obese motorists are more likely to die in car crashes than their thinner counterparts.
Here in Georgia, approximately 28 percent of the population is obese, and in Fulton County 23 percent of residents are obese, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Georgia ranks about 11th as the most obese state in the country; Alabama is number one. So not only are a large fraction of Atlanta residents in danger of developing future health problems, but if they are involved in a traffic accident, they are more likely to be seriously injured or killed.
The results of a study conducted by two researchers, published in the Emergency Medical Journal, concluded that obese drivers and passengers were more likely to die in traffic collisions. This affirms previous studies that found that obesity puts a person at a greater risk of being involved in an accident or and incurring severe injuries.
This past August, Canadian scientists found that morbidly obese motorists were more likely to be seriously injured in a collision because most automobiles are not made to accommodate their larger bodies, according CBS Seattle.
“Poor car-to-person fit is thought to be the leading cause of increased risk of injury and fatality in [car accidents] for [people] who are obese or overweight versus [people] who are normal weight,” the study, which was published in the Ottawa Citizen, said.
Since the average car is designed for a person weighing a maximum of 163 pounds, safety features such as seat belts or airbags don’t give them the necessary protection to prevent injuries or death in the event of a traffic collision.
The study published last week by two researchers, Thomas Rice of UC Berkley, and Motao Zhu of the University of Virginia found that motorists with a BMI of 30 was at a 20 percent greater risk of being killed in an accident, increasing to 34 percent for a BMI of 30 and 39.9 percent for a BMI of 35. The risk of being fatally injured jumps to a astounding 80 percent if the motorist has a BMI if 40 or more. A BMI over 20 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 40 or more is considered morbidly obese.
Researchers believe the reason for such a great risk is forward motion, a heavier body mover faster and takes longer to stop moving. Their size also keeps the seat belt from tightening around their pelvic area.
The study also found that obese women were at a greater risk of fatal injury than obese men. However underweight men were more likely to be killed in a collision than underweight women.
Driving in Atlanta can be dangerous anyway especially because of the speed people travel on the freeways and the heavy traffic, but knowing that being obese puts you at more risk of a traffic accident injury may be the impetus some need to lose some extra pounds.