Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage.Here are some of the details from the study, which is set to appear in the October-December issue of the peer-reviewed Engineering Economist:
Using recent gas prices of $2.20 a gallon, that translates to about $2.2 billion more spent on gas each year.
The obesity rate among U.S. adults doubled from 1987 to 2003, from about 15 percent to more than 30 percent. Also, the average weight for American men was 191 pounds in 2002 and 164 pounds for women, about 25 pounds heavier than in 1960, government figures show.Sheldon Jacobson and Laura McLay estimate that each additional pound of average passenger weight increases gas usage by 39 million gallons. The total increase, however, is under 1% of the amount of gas consumed.
The study's conclusions are based on those weight figures and Americans' 2003 driving habits, involving roughly 223 million cars and light trucks nationwide.
This is one time that it pays to be below average.
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