Obesity Increases Injury Risk in Motor Vehicle Accidents, especially for overweight men involved in car crashes

Athletes and those in the fitness industry have known for years that the morbidly obese are at greater risk for all sorts of diseases and spine disorders. But now research has found that obese people more at risk for acute upper body injury in car crashes. Scientific data demonstrates increased risk of injury in motor vehicle accidents among overweight and obese Americans, especially among males according to the Journal of Public Medicine. This study should also provide further incentive for overweight and obese Americans to reduce their weight, as much as realistically possible.

Little research had previously been conducted as to obesity and the risk of injury after a motor vehicle accident, especially in relation to gender. However, since obese women tend to have more fat in the lower body and obese men in the upper body, it was reasonable to speculate that there would be differences in their injuries after a car crash. The scientists studied data from the Crashworthiness Data System, a part of the National Automotive Sampling System. They included thousands of passenger car or truck drivers, at least 18 years old, involved in frontal collision accidents from 2001 to 2005.

The scientists also ran computer simulations of frontal collision accidents of motor vehicles. This way they could experimentally adjust the body mass index of a simulated person, and observe the resultant injuries after an accident. What causes these differences in gender and injurity severity? The scientists speculate that since obese males tend to have more fat in the upper body, an abrupt change in velocity may distribute more force to these body regions in an accident. The ultimate observation was that obese men are generally at greater risk of injury after a motor vehicle accident than other men or even obese women. This information should assist motor vehicle manufacturers in designing more appropriate safety restraints.

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