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 |  Jun 14 2011, 9:56 AM

Americans don’t buy small cars because we’re too damn fat. There. It’s what we’ve all been thinking all along. And now a report comes by to confirm our deepest suspicions: we buy SUVs and avoid small cars because our posteriors can’t fit comfortably without lumbar support.

A report from AOL Autos reveals that there’s a connection between our rapidly-expanding obesity rate and a struggle for manufacturers to sell small cars. The number of people defined as obese is expected to increase from 40% to 43% by 2018, according to statistics from Dan Cheng, vice president and partner at business consulting firm AT Kearney. Similarly, sales of small cars like the Mazda2 have dropped 2% since 2008, that terrible year when gas prices were $4 per gallon. They’re at 26% now, and unless people start losing either weight or money (to the gas pumps), they’re not likely to increase soon.

Correlation may not imply causation, as you learned in Freshman Philosophy and a million Internet arguments, but the statements of self-acknowledged obese people drive home the connection. “I want to be environmentally friendly,” said Karen Steelman, a mother whose body-mass index is above the commonly-defined obesity rate, “but unless I am in an SUV these days, I find no pleasure or comfort in driving.”

Another driver surveyed was Robert Dean Cole, who is 6 foot 7 inches and 240 pounds, with a six-year-old son who is nearly 5 feet tall. “Obviously, little cars are not going to be in our future,” he said. “And even if I could actually fit under the steering wheel of the car my next worry would be surviving a car accident. Good chance I won’t be surviving due to my size.” Cole drives a Ford F-150.

Carmakers are working on making their cars more accessible to larger drivers, regardless of size. Ford, for example, is updating their database of human dimensions to include obese adults. Interior design teams use this data to determine key factors such as center console placement, seat controls, roof lines, and sunroof controls, among others. In the end, as well-packaged cars like the Honda Fit can attest, it’s the cleverness of interior packaging that will haul our muffin tops down the road to freedom!

[Source: AOL Autos]

 |  Aug 20 2010, 9:20 PM

We all know that obesity has an adverse effect on our health, but did you know that is also has a detrimental effect on fuel economy and car safety? Those are the findings coming out of a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

General findings from this new report on obesity showed that there was a 1.1 percent increase (an additional 2.4 million people) in the self-reported prevalence of obesity between 2007 and 2009, and the number of states with an obesity rate over 30 percent has tripled to nine states (compare that to 2000, when there were no states that had an obesity rate of 30 percent). Not only does this become a concern for health, but also has repercussions when it comes to automobiles. The rise in obesity has forced these people, out of necessity, to buy larger vehicles, which increases gasoline consumption in the U.S. and fuel consumption increases with more weight in cars.

In 2006, a study done by analyzed the amount of additional fuel consumed due to heavier drivers. They found that almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline per year can be attributed to passenger weight gain in non-commercial vehicles between 1960 and 2002. That comes out to .7 percent of the total fuel used by passenger vehicles annually. They also estimated that for every pound gained in average passenger weight, over 39 million gallons of fuel is used annually.

One the safety side of things, the obesity problem also increases the risk of crashes and injury is more prevalent due to the fact that obese drivers are less likely to buckle up because seat belts may not fit properly.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

 |  Aug 13 2010, 10:44 AM


It’s always painful to drag out the tired “fat Americans” canard that so many smug Europeans like to bust out everytime your criticize their 35 hour workweek, but the truth is, many Americans are on the larger side.

Consumers Reports makes an excellent point; larger people often buy larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, which has an impact on fuel economy. Not only do larger vehicles consume more fuel, but the added mass of their obese human cargo adds to the overall burden that the vehicle must deal with.

Recognizing this phenomenon, Consumers Reports decided to round up the best vehicles for portly men and women that were also efficient and affordable. Among the criteria for the vehicles were “easy access, a roomy driving position, decent visibility, and comfortable seats plus, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel for extra room.” The top 5 vehicles were the Honda Accord, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Azera, Kia Rondo and Subaru Forester XT Limited, not the most exciting choices but all decent vehicles in their own right.

[Source: Consumers Reports]