Study Finds That Obese Americans Are Not Wearing Seat Belts
According to FOX News, a new study conducted by lead author Dr. Dietrich Jehle and his team found that obese drivers may be at an increased risk of dying in car crash than normal-weight drivers as they frequently fail to buckle up. The study relied on police reports and observations about whether drivers involved in fatal accidents wore seat belts.
Information About the Study
Based on studies using a U.S database of nearly 200,000 fatal passenger vehicle crashes, researchers found that normal-weight Americans involved in such accidents were 66 percent more likely to have been wearing a seatbelt than those considered severely obese.
Dr. Jehle, director of emergency services at Erie County Medical Center and vice chairman of Emergency Medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, urges the importance of increasing seatbelt usage in order to best prevent deaths on the highway.
Federal safety standards set in the 1960's reflect a time where the average Americans were lighter, but is no longer applicable considering the number of Americans now considered overweight.
Statistics Concerning the Subject
- An earlier study found that individuals considered morbidly obese were 56 percent more likely to die in vehicle crashes.
- Dr. Jehle points out that other research has shown that usage of shoulder belts reduces deaths by 45 percent.
- The study found that closer to morbid obesity a person was, the less likely he or she was to have been wearing a seat belt.
How Obesity is Measured
- Obesity is defined by body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height. People with a BMI between 18.5 and 25 are considered normal weight. a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, between 30 and 40 is obese and above 40 is morbidly obese.
- For example, a 5-foot-10-inch tall man weighing 300 pounds would have a BMI of 43.
- Data from the year 2009 taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one-third of Americans are considered overweight with another one-third considered obese.
Proof that Action Needs to be Taken
“Obese drivers are far less likely to wear seatbelts than are drivers of normal weight, which puts them at a greater risk of being subjected to higher impact forces and being ejected from the vehicle, both of which lead to more severe injury and/or death.” – Dr. Dietrich Jehle as published by FOX News
When compared, moderately obese drivers were 23 percent more likely to buckle up, slightly obese were 39 percent more likely, and the overweight were 60 percent more likely to buckle up. A spokesperson for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance agreed that seatbelt use is important despite the difficulties that occur.
Deb Burgard, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders praised the study for raising awareness about the need for heavy drivers to wear seat belts.
Jehle stated that he would like the study to prompt car manufacturers to make longer belts and for safety regulators to use larger dummies in crash tests.
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