Obese people have higher risk of car crash death: study

Kimberly Gillan
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Image: Getty Images

The heavier you are, the more likely you are to die in a car crash, according to a new US study that found obese people are up to 80 percent more likely to die in a car crash.

A group of transport safety scientists analysed US road accident statistics and believe the increased risk could be because obese people are more likely to have health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, which could increase their chance of death.

They also said car designs may not protect obese drivers, after previous studies found obese people travel further before seatbelts lock because the soft fat around their middle stops the seatbelt from fitting snugly around their pelvis.

The researchers analysed data from 3400 accidents involving similar cars (with one driver in each car) between 1996 and 2008.

After accounting for other road death risk factors, including age, seat belt use, alcohol consumption and whether an air bag deployed, they still found obesity increased a person's risk of death.

People with a body mass index between 30 and 35 were 20 percent more likely to die than normal weight people, while those with a BMI greater than 40 were 80 percent more likely to die.

The research was conducted by scientists Thomas Rice from the University of California and Motao Zhu from the University of West Virginia, and was published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

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