SMASH! The rear passenger window shattered from the impact, spraying glass fragments upon my 7-year-old son. While attempting to leave an air show last month, our vehicle was T-boned by an absent-minded driver trying to perform a three-point turn in the parking lot. Thankfully, no one was injured (save for a small cut on my son's leg). Aside from being a bit shaken up, it was a windy ride home with a blown-out window.
The impact from this crash was minimal, despite the obvious damage to our vehicle, so our seatbelts easily kept us in our places. But what if speed had been a factor and the impact had been greater? And what if my family was representative of the 66 percent of American adults who are overweight or obese?
Turns out that, in a worse car crash, our odds of injury and survival could be partially dependent upon our fitness level.
Really? How can that be? I would have guessed that a thick layer of body fat might provide some extra measure of protection to vital organs upon impact. Not so, according a recent article in The Washington Post titled, "A depressing sign of America's obesity problem: fatter crash test dummies."
"Crash test dummies have long helped auto manufacturers keep cars as safe as possible, but the slim plastic mannequins are increasingly poor mirrors of the modern American man and woman," the article explained.
In response, Humanetics, the world's leading producer of crash test dummies, is developing "a new obese dummy to better mirror the U.S. population."
A crash test dummy weighing over 270 pounds with a body mass index of 35 (30 and above is considered obese by the CDC) is already in process.
The article states that Americans' ever-expanding waistline has also made it more difficult for traditional crash test dummies to properly model how car passengers' bodies will react during an auto accident. "Obese people are 78 percent more likely to die in a crash," Chris O' Connor, the CEO of Humanetics. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat."
Furthermore, the article cites a 2010 study from the University at Buffalo and Erie County Medical Center that reached a similar conclusion. "The study, which analyzed data from more than 150,000 car crashes in the United States between 2000 to 2005, found that moderately obese drivers faced a 21 percent increased risk of death, and morbidly obese drivers faced a 56 percent increased risk of death."
"Crash test dummies have saved lives and provided invaluable data on how human bodies react to crashes, but they are designed to represent normal-weight individuals," lead author Dr. Dietrich Jehle told the Daily Mail in 2010.
As if we needed another compelling reason to manage our weight! The months between Halloween and New Year's are considered the greatest season for weight gain. Let's commit now to eating cleaner, reducing portion sizes, moving more, losing fat and being safer in our vehicles!
SUBSCRIBE HERE to FitnessIsFreedom.net!
Molly is a wife, mom,
CLICK HERE AND ENTER YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS TO RECEIVE THE LATEST NEWS FROM FITNESSISFREEDOM.NET!
I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.