Magazine article USA TODAY

Obesity Increases Risk of Death

Magazine article USA TODAY

Obesity Increases Risk of Death

Article excerpt

Moderately and morbidly obese persons face many health issues--heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, gallbladder disorders, and others. Now, increased chances of dying while driving during a severe auto accident can be added to the list. In a severe motor vehicle crash, a moderately obese driver faces a 21% increased risk of death, while the morbidly obese face a 56% increased risk of not surviving, according to a study by Dietrich Jehle, professor of emergency medicine at Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo, N.Y. Interestingly, underweight and normal weight drivers were found to be at higher risk of dying from a severe crash than slightly overweight drivers.

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"The severity and patterns of crash injuries depend on a complex interaction of biomechanical factors, including deceleration velocity at impact, seat belt and air bag use, vehicle type and weight, and type of impact," explains Jehle.

Jehle suggests several changes that might save lives. "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. …

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