Overweight People More Likely to Die in a Car Crash

Risk of death is 80 percent greater for the morbidly obese.

Posted in News

— And you thought overweight people only had heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure problems to worry about?

Based on a study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, obesity increases the odds of being killed in an auto accident.  For the morbidly obese, the odds increase by a whopping 80 percent.

Researchers said the "slightly obese" were 21 percent more likely to die in an auto accident, compared to an occupant of normal weight.  According to the World Health Organization, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-30 is considered overweight, 30-35 slightly obese, 35-40 moderately obese, and a BMI of 40 is considered morbidly obese.

Vehicle occupants with a BMI of 35 to 35.9 were 51 percent more likely to die in a crash, and a BMI of 40 or more increased the risk of death by 80 percent.

Researchers also found a distinct difference between male and female occupants.  Morbidly obese women were almost twice as likely to die in a car crash when compared with morbidly obese men.

One reason for the increased risk of death overall might be the obese typically have other heath issues at the time of a crash.  However, researchers also believe the seat belt might not tighten as fast on an obese person, causing the seat belt to slide forward in a split second during a crash.

This isn't the first study to indicate a greater risk of death in a car crash because of being overweight.

A previous study from the University of Buffalo found overweight drivers are at greater risk of injury or death in an auto accident because they are less likely to wear their seat belt.