America's obesity epidemic is also causing increased fuel consumption besides the deleterious effects it has on health.
Statistics have shown that Americans are pumping almost 940 million more gallons of gas into their vehicles than they used to in 1960 because the average American has now become roughly two dozen pounds heavier which amounted to around $2.8 billion more spent on gas each year, calculated at $3 for a gallon of gas.
These are the results of a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Federal statistics were used to calculate how much fuel Americans in 1960 and other years would have used if they were driving in 2003.
Sheldon H. Jacobson, one of the study's authors and a professor of computer science at U of I. said, "We basically looked at the average weights of people for different time periods, and then we took those people and we put them in today's cars with today's driving habits."
Jacobson and Virginia Commonwealth professor Laura McLay also included variables such as passengers of different weights and ages.
The study will be published in The Engineering Economist journal, and is expected to show that "our nation's hunger for food and our hunger for oil aren't independent of each other," according to Jacobson. He said, "Beyond public health, being overweight has many other socioeconomic implications."
McLay said that the extra gas is being used each year to carry more overweight Americans which is about three days' worth of what the nation currently consumes.
Jacobson said, "Every additional gallon of fuel is coming from a foreign source, and it's expensive.