Overweight at risk in car accidents

Overweight at risk in car accidents

Obese people are often victims of car accidents

Driving is significantly more dangerous for people who are overweight than for normal people - this is the result that the two US researchers Thomas Rice from the University of California at Berkeley and Motao Zhu from the University of West Virginia are currently presenting in the journal "Emergency Medicine Journal".

The more weight, the riskier an autocollision. According to the study, the two Americans would have shown that "overweight drivers are more likely to die from injuries caused by an auto-collision than non-obese people, who were involved in the same collision. ”This increases the risk of being killed in an accident for drivers who are overweight compared to normal people by 21%. If the excess weight continues to increase, the risk increases in comparison: for obese people, this means a 51 percent higher risk for extremely obese people and an 80 percent higher risk of falling victim to an accident.

Comparing thousands of accidents For their investigation, Thomas Rice Motao Zhu's first step was to compare the data from 57,000 car accidents that happened in the United States between 1996 and 2008. In a second step, the two finally concentrated on cars of comparable size, vehicle type and airbag equipment and also took into account factors such as age or alcohol consumption of the accident victim. Finally, 3,403 accidents were evaluated, the drivers of which provided information on weight, age and the use of seat belts.

Body mass index as a guideline The evaluation of the accidents clearly showed: People who were classified as overweight or obese by means of the so-called "body mass index" (BMI) had more injuries in the chest area than drivers in accidents, who were not overweight: “The risk ratio increased with higher BMI categories and was 1 to 21 for a BMI of 30 to 34.9, 1 to 51 for a BMI of 35 to 39.9 and 1 to 80 for a body -Mass index of 40 or over 40 “, according to the researchers in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

The “body mass index” is calculated from the body weight divided by the square of the body size. According to the World Health Organization's obesity classification, the BMI for normal-weight people is between 18.5 and 25; from a value of 30 people are considered in need of treatment due to their overweight.

Inadequate safety precautions for overweight people The researchers see a possible reason for these enormous safety differences in the design of the safety precautions: Because the seat belts are oriented towards “normal weight” people. For people who are overweight, however, this would mean that the belly fat would act like a kind of sponge and delay the deployment of the seat belts.

Therefore, according to the two researchers, there is an urgent need to pay more attention to the safety of overweight people when designing vehicles - because in the United States in particular, heavyweight men (33%) and women (35%) now represent a significant proportion of society.

Increased risk also for underweight people But not only overweight people are at increased risk of an autocollision - according to the study, underweight passengers are also not adequately protected by the safety precautions currently used and would therefore be somewhat more likely to die in an accident than people with normal weight . (sb)

Image: Dieter Schütz /

Author and source information

Video: A big fat crisis -- stopping the real causes of the obesity epidemic. Deborah Cohen. TEDxUCRSalon (September 2020).