Want to cut down on gas usage to be more eco-friendly? There’s an unlikely culprit to blame for millions of wasted gasoline: your weight. Car insurance company Allstate has calculated that 39 million gallons of fuel every year are wasted for every pound added on in average passenger weight nationally. They’ve illustrated this astonishing statistic in a catchy infographic.
The rapid weight gain of Americans is causing the fuel efficiency of vehicles to suffer, making it a challenge for the industry to show gains in creating lighter and cleaner cars with better gas mileage. Sure, a car could get great gas mileage, but if obese riders are in it, the car will continue to be a gas-guzzler. Every 100 pounds, experts say, can cut miles per gallon by two percent, or one fewer mile per gallon.
What this means economically is that Americans spend $4 billion per year on extra gasoline just because of obesity. Between 1960 and 2002, Allstate estimates that 1 billion gallons of gasoline can be attributed to the weight gain of passengers.
Car makers will continue to improve the gas mileage of vehicles as the government has regulated and technology improves, but they face an uphill battle in realizing these improvements if the obesity rates of Americans begins to reach epidemic proportions. By 2025, new cars and trucks must meet a standard of 54.5 miles per gallon. Current car models reach the standard of fuel efficiency by becoming more streamlined, using lighter metals, and throwing out unneeded features. CD players are being replaced with MP3 players, spare tires for air pumps, and physical owners manuals are going digital. All of these innovations translate to the car using less gas.
Current national statistics on obesity show that over one-third of adults are obese. By 2030, an estimated 42 percent of Americans will be obese, with 39 states having rates above 50 percent. That means that in the majority of states, 1 in 2 Americans will be obese.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an adult with a body mass index over 30 is considered obese. For someone 5 feet 9 inches tall, the CDC would consider them obese if they weigh 203 pounds or more.
Now we can’t just blame the Hummers and SUVs driving down the road for making an unhealthy environment, it’s our expanding waistlines, too. To get better gas mileage, get a fuel-efficient car, cut down on luggage, and consider shedding some unnecessary pounds, too.