Obese People More Likely to Die in a Car Crash

February 12, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. obese [oh-BEES(adj.) – very fat
Example: Doctors say obese people should start exercising to lose some weight.

2. collision [kuh-LIZH-uhn] (n.) – an accident in which two moving objects crash into each other
Example: Drunk driving often results in car collisions.

3. narrow down [NAR-oh-doun] (idiom) – to be more specific
Example: The researchers narrowed down the list of victims from 5,000 to 3,000.

4. injury [IN-juh-ree] (n.) – damage to a person’s body
Example: The driver suffered from a minor injury from the accident.

5. complication [kom-pli-KEY-shuhn] (n.) – a disease caused by a previous illness
Example: After the operation, the victim developed some mild complications that slowed down his recovery.

Read the text below.

A recent study from the Emergency Medicine Journal found that extremely obese people have 80% risk of dying in car collisions.

Transport safety scientists Thomas Rice and Motao Zhu analyzed more than 5,700 car collisions in the US from 1996 to 2008.  The number was then narrowed down to 3,403 collisions of two cars with similar type and size. Afterwards, the scientists compared the risks against the victim’s Body Mass Index (BMI), the measurement of how much fat a person has. The study also ran crash tests involving normal weight and obese dead bodies.

Results of the study showed that underweight people have 19% risk of dying in a car crash, 21% risk for obese people, and 80% for extremely obese individuals. In addition, obese women, as compared to people with normal weight, are two times more likely to die in a collision.

The researchers also found that obese people tend to have more chest injuries than head injuries, which make the victims more likely to have complications that may then cause death. Crash tests revealed that it takes some time for seat belts to hold back an obese person at the moment of collision compared to a person with normal weight.

These findings, according to the researchers, may be because cars, especially its safety features, are designed for people with normal body weight and not for obese people. For example, seatbelts make obese people feel uncomfortable, which is why these people tend not to properly use them.

However, Rice and Zhu still suggest further investigation on the detailed differences between the obese and normal-weighted people.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How do you think this research will affect obese people’s driving habits?
·         What do you think are other disadvantages of being obese?

Discussion B

·         Why is there a need to study the causes of car accidents?
·         How can car accidents be reduced?


February 12, 2013