Yes, believe it or not. While reading the Oil & Gas Journal, I came across an article written by Sam Fletcher (Senior Writer) about just that.
One would have never thought that being obese could have an impact on the environment, much less when talking about fuel efficiency, and yet – it does.
“In 2006, Jacobson and doctoral student Laura McLay found US cars and light trucks consumed as much as 938 million gal/year of additional fuel due to the increased number of overweight and obese motorists since the 1960’s.
In a follow-up study in 2008, Jacobson and doctoral student Douglas King found the amount of additional fuel escalated some 200 million gal to 1.137 million gal/year, said a University of Illinois article on the web site, www.physorg.com.
Jacobson estimates more than 39 million gal/year of fuel are necessary to transport each additional 1lb of average gain among US motorists.” And as is pointed out in the article, these results are coming out “Just as smaller, lighter alternative vehicles are entering the market, US residents are getting bigger”.
I’d like to add an interesting point of view to Oil & Gas Journal’s article. While reading another article I came across the following information:
As you well know, all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the U.S. are required to have a label that displays fuel economy information at dealerships.
But,what you might not know is that as part of the ongoing campaign of environmental awareness, EPA along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), have made a proposal regarding these labels.
EPA is asking the public to comment and vote for one of two new designs. Follow the link and check them out, vote and comment. The prosed labels now have more information regarding, fuel efficiency but also give information about CO2 emissions. In one of the two options, the vehicle is even given a grade. http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/index.htm.
The goal of the redesign is to better inform the consumers with simple, straightforward energy and environmental comparisons across all vehicles types. Consequently, fuel efficiency is of course, one of the considerations.
So now, the only unanswered question is:
Who is testing these cars, thin or heavy set drivers?
Did EPA take body weight into account when calculating mpg efficiency? Because now we know, it does make a difference.
But coming back to Mr. Fletcher’s Oil & Gas Journal article, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said in August the US overall estimated prevalence of obesity was 26.7%, up from 25.6% in 2007, 23.9% in 2005, and 19.8% up 2000”.
Therefore, this is not a pretty picture of the future, either for tackling obesity or for obtaining the 24 mpg goal for 2011 that would save more than 250 million gal/year of fuel.
In Jacobson’s opinion, “The growing obesity problem is a major symptom of our nation’s addiction to oil. We prefer to ride when we should walk.”
I can only add, on a positive note, that another one of my posts, West Houston Bike Trails, is one of my most popular ones. I would hope that this means that people are truly taking into consideration the fact that we can take a break from car use and enjoy the outdoors and exercise; or at least – I’d like to think so.
NOTE: The original article about obesity and fuel efficiency is called: Fat weighs on fuel efficiency was written by Sam Fletcher, and is available in Oil & Gas Journal’s September 2010 issue.
If I have misrepresented Mr. Fletcher’s point of view in this article, it was not my intention. I respect his writing and used his article to comment and express my own.