Rumor: Overweight people more likely to die in car crashes

Drivers who are obese have a higher risk of fatal injury during car accidents, a new study says.

UNCONFIRMED: One study found a correlation between obesity and death risk.

The study, published Jan. 21, says that drivers who are obese are more likely to die in a traffic collision than people who are not obese. The researchers looked at drivers age 16 or older in passenger vehicles and found that heavier drives were at a higher risk, regardless of vehicle type, collision type or seatbelt use.

The Daily Mail reported that the study, conducted in the U.S., included 6,806 drivers in 3,403 collisions. Eighteen percent of the drivers were obese, 33 percent were overweight and 46 percent had a healthy weight.

Overall, the Mail reported, obese drivers were 80 percent more likely to die in a car accident compared to drivers of a healthy weight. Obese women fared particularly poorly, according to the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail said that one possible explanation offered by the study is that heavier people are propelled farther in an accident because "their additional soft tissue prevents the seatbelt tightening immediately against the bones of the pelvis."

Obesity problem

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization as a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight.

According to WHO, obesity rates have more than doubled worldwide since 1980. WHO said that in 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide were overweight, and nearly 500 million were obese.


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