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Fat People Account for Gasoline Price Increases and Bigger Carbon Footprint, Study Says


I myself can confirm that as I get older, I find the need of driving a larger car more and more compelling. It looks like as you get fatter, the need of driving something even bigger is also more and more acute.

A study of the Resources for the Future (RFF) institute from a few years ago (2009, more exactly) revealed the impact that obesity has on a man’s carbon footprint. It showed that even a 10 percent increase in the rate of overweight and obesity among the population affected the miles per gallon by 2.5%, in the bad direction. This, in turn, created a 30 cent increase in gasoline prices.

Of course, big people need big cars, it’s natural. If you had over 200 pounds you’d have thought the same, but nowadays the car manufacturers seem to be concerned mostly about reducing the weight of their trucks and SUVs rather than promoting a more healthy driving attitude (I know it’s absurd to think like that, but weight really is an issue these days). As long as people want bigger cars, the manufacturers have to comply. That leads to more and more comfort and all the gadgetry inside the vehicle only makes one stay for longer there.

“Our simulation results show that had the prevalence of overweight and obesity stayed at the level in 1981 (about 20 percentage points lower than that in 2005), the average MPG of new vehicles demanded in 2005 would have been about 4.6 percent higher, everything else being equal. The improved fuel efficiency implies total gasoline savings of about 138 million barrels and reduction in CO2 emissions of 58 million tons over the lifetime of these vehicles,” said the study led by Shanjun Li, Yanyan Liu, and Junjie Zhang.

“Extra-large Americans get up and go to work like anyone else and they need vehicles to get them there and back. Is the auto industry paying attention?” In that story, interviewed carmakers deny that they target obese people per se. Instead, they indeed pay attention to what the customer wants. “We’re finding that people say, ‘We want more space,'” said Sage Marie, Manager of Honda Product Planning, for AOL Autos.

Again, I’m not saying the fancy electronics and gadgets inside your car aren’t good, but in the same paradoxical manner they promote laziness and you’d better go by car to buy some bread from your local kiosk, instead of biking or walking… it’s just fancier.

One more thing besides what I wrote above: the mileage per gallon also decreases due to the fact that the engine has to carry more weight as you gain it, so all the benefits go to thin guys in small cars. The next time you go to the gym, remember you do it for your pocket, too.

[via ttac/gas2]

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