Researchers at the Injury Research Center of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that men with the highest body mass index (BMI) and those with the lowest BMI are at greatest risk of death from crashes.
Obesity and being slim increases male drivers risk of dying in a car crash. On the other hand being moderately overweight might help cushion the blow.
Researchers also found that obesity in women does not contribute to an increase in the risk of death from such crashes. Their study was published in American Journal of Public Health. The study was funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP).
Shankuan Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of family & community medicine said that men with the highest BMI were at greatest risk for death from front or left-side collisions at high speeds. This provides a link between high-risk drivers and areas such as obesity, traffic safety policy, and motor vehicle design. This study has an important implication in identifying health risk associated with obesity among men.
In US motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death. Statistics show that this has taken more than 42,000 lives in 2002. The current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards provide protection primarily for the mid-size male (BMI = 24.3 kg/m2). But the current situation is different which is seen by the study conducted in 2000. It reports that 30.4 % of American adults have a BMI of 30 or greater and 4.9 % have a BMI of 40 or greater.
The researchers suggest that further studies has to be done in the gender difference in BMI in relation to motor vehicle fatality should be done. The study participants were 22,000 drivers in the age group of 16 and older. The period of study was from 1997 to 2001 by the National Automotive Sampling System, Crashworthiness Data System.