THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Here's another reason not
to pile on too many excess pounds: A new study finds that the obese
and very obese are at raised risk of death in severe car
According to the research, published in the
American Journal of Emergency Medicine, a moderately obese
driver is 21 percent more likely to die in a severe motor vehicle
crash compared to non-obese drivers, while being severely obese
hikes the risk of death by 56 percent.
However, being just slightly overweight seemed to lower the odds
for death in a severe crash: these drivers were actually less
likely to die than either underweight or normal-weight drivers,
according to researchers at the University at Buffalo School of
Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
In the study, the researchers analyzed data from the national
Fatality Analysis Reporting System involving almost 156,000 drivers
in severe motor vehicle crashes occurring between 2000-2005. The
researchers included all fatalities occurring within 30 days of a
The link between obesity and death risk was found for both men
and women, the researchers noted.
The study's lead author said the findings could have
implications for car design and car safety testing.
"The rate of obesity is continuing to rise, so is it imperative
that car designs are modified to protect the obese population, and
that crash tests are done using a full range of dummy sizes," Dr.
Dietrich Jehle, professor of emergency medicine, said in a
university news release.
"Extending the range of adjustable seats would be helpful, as
well as encouraging moderately and morbidly obese individuals to
buy larger vehicles with more space between the seat and the
steering column," he said.
"We also recommend that manufacturers design and test vehicle
interiors with obese dummies, which currently are not
The study was funded in part by the U.S. Federal Highway
Find out more about safe driving at the
U.S. Department of Transportation.