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Add 'behind the wheel' to places that BMI matters, especially for men

March 29, 2010 |  6:43 pm

Cars Extra padding in an automobile accident is not a good thing, not when that padding comes from fat.

Scientists at the Medical College of Wisconsin's Injury Research Center and elsewhere analyzed real-world data on almost 11,000 drivers involved in front-end crashes; they also crafted computer models and crash simulations. Their conclusion: In automobile accidents, obese men are much more likely to sustain serious upper body injuries than are normal-weight men.

Body shape and center of gravity are factors, but the researchers acknowledge that additional study is needed to put a fine point on the body mass index (BMI)-risk connection.

They conclude: "Our findings may have important implications for high-risk cohort identification (e.g., obese male drivers), traffic safety intervention, policymaking, and for motor vehicle design to protect more vulnerable body regions."

Here's the full driver-injury study, published in the March issue of PLoS Medicine.

And don't forget to click on "supporting information" for the crash-test dummy simulations.

On Southern California roads, we need as much safety-related information as we can get.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: On the plus side, a high rate of speed is often unlikely.

Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times