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Old 02-13-2011, 08:29 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Are Fat People Driving Up The Price Of Gas? Are They The Source Of The Greenhouse Eff

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Are Fat People Driving Up The Price Of Gas? Are They The Source Of The Greenhouse Effect?


By Bertel Schmitt on February 13, 2011



Yes, and yes, says a study of the Resources for the Future (RFF) institute. The Washington think tank’s study examined “the unexplored link between the prevalence of overweight and obesity and vehicle demand” for bigger and more gas guzzling cars.

RFF brands itself as a “nonpartisan organization that conducts independent research.” Their study found “that the prevalence of overweight and obesity has a sizable effect on the fuel economy of newvehicles demanded. A 10 percentage point increase in the rate of overweight and obesity among the population reduces the average miles per gallon (MPG) of new vehicles demanded by 2.5 percent, an effect that requires a 30 cent increase in gasoline prices to counteract.” Basically what they are saying: Fat people choose fat cars. More fat people, more fat cars.

Shame on you if your belly keeps you from reading the numbers on the bathroom scale, you are driving up the cost of our gas, fatso. If you would eat less, we would pay less. If the study is correct.

The study is a bit dated (August 2009), and with names such as Shanjun Li, Yanyan Liu, and Junjie Zhang, the authors of the study may be a bit biased. Alternating between China and Japan, most foreigners (myself included) appear fat to me, or debu-debu as they say in Japan. I stumbled across this study because of the serendipity of two stories that appeared this weekend.

The top story of Automotive News [sub] is “Ford leads the way as automakers embrace weight-loss.” In their cars, not amongst their customers. “Weight is absolutely critical,” said Ford CEO Alan Mulally for saving gas and in order to reach CAFE rules that require a fleet average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. There already is talk about a 62-mpg target for 2025. Ford’s diet regimen clashes with another trend.

Over at AOL Autos, there is an article titled “Super Size Me? How About My Car?” It muses about the buying habits of the Generation XXL: “Extra-large Americans get up and go to work like anyone else and they need vehicles to get them there and back. Is the auto industry paying attention?” In that story, interviewed carmakers deny that they target obese people per se. Instead, they indeed pay attention to what the customer wants. “We’re finding that people say, ‘We want more space,’” said Sage Marie, Manager of Honda Product Planning.

If people want bigger cars, they get bigger cars. AOL Autos complains that there are “few reliable statistics on which cars are most accommodating for larger people.” As we soon shall see, they did not look hard enough. All AOL found was a list compiled last year by Consumer Reports that recommends “several good cars that are best for larger drivers,” as CR said.

Oddly enough, the cars all hail from the lands of lithe, from Japan and Korea:

Make/model Price CR overall mpg Honda Accord $22,795 23 Honda Odyssey $32,610 19 Hyundai Azera $31,670 20 Kia Rondo $20,655 21 Subaru Forester XT Limited $28,860 20 This is a list of cars CR thinks hefty people should buy. It’s not a list of what they buy. That led to the study mentioned above. The authors claim that they have irrefutable proof that people who can’t stop eating choose cars with a serious drinking disorder.

The greater the share of fat people, the greater the share of gas guzzling light trucks. Shazamm!

What’s more, RFF tells us (using EPA data) that the fuel economy of allnewvehicles (green line) peaked in 1987. It was all downhill from there until a slight pick-up in 2005. It must have been all those non-HWP people buying big rigs.




The study reminds us that “medical cost of overweight and obesity accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medical expenditures in 1998 and reached $78.5 billion, half of which were through financially-distressed Medicare and Medicaid systems.” While people increased in heft, there emerged “a seemingly unrelated but equally significant trend: The dramatic increase in the number of large passengervehicles on American roads.” Which of course make us dependent on oil from “politically unstable” countries, fill the air with pollution, and give us skin cancer through the ozone hole.

Says the study: “Our simulation results show that had the prevalence of overweight and obesity stayed at the level in 1981 (about 20 percentage points lower than that in 2005), the average MPG of new vehicles demanded in 2005 would have been about 4.6 percent higher, everything else being equal. The improved fuel efficiency implies total gasoline savings of about 138 million barrels and reduction in CO2 emissions of 58 million tons over the lifetime of these vehicles.”

The theory is being put in question by a commentator in a discussion forum. When someone recommended a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado as the perfect ride for the circumferentially challenged, the reply was:
“Gotta climb UP into those… “
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/201...nhouse-effect/
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:13 AM   #2
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I figure after we get done ripping cigarettes out of peoples mouths we will go after salt and sugar. You know for the greater good of all.

Your darn cheeseburgers are costing me money. While we are at it why do we need cars that go faster then the speed limit, its illegal anyways.

We can create some more goverment agencies to manage our lives. Since most cant handle it themselves it just costs the rest money.

We will create a superior race with blue eyes, blonde hair, perfect weight, hey wait wasnt this done before............We are much smarter today this can never happen again.

Good thing food is cheap. We can create a food tax to force people to consume less. This tax can then buy food for the poor and pay for medical for the obese. This way we dont have to pay for it.

There was a study in the 70s that concluded that if everyone took their golf bags out of the trunk of their cars we could save millions of gallons of fuel every year. Now the trunks on cars are to small to leave your clubs in the car.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:19 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by VanishingPoint View Post
While we are at it why do we need cars that go faster then the speed limit, its illegal anyways.

We can create some more goverment agencies to manage our lives. Since most cant handle it themselves it just costs the rest money.
No way, they'll always let the cars go faster than the speed limit so they can get the revenue from speeding tickets.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:23 AM   #4
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This article is absurd. So a fat person that weighs 50-100lbs more than an average person is driving up the price of gas? What about the fact that most cars now are morbidly obese; they weigh 500-1000lbs more than they did 20 years ago!

Besides, in my experience a lot of fat people like smaller cars, I see so many obese Mini owners!
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Godmal View Post
This article is absurd. So a fat person that weighs 50-100lbs more than an average person is driving up the price of gas? What about the fact that most cars now are morbidly obese; they weigh 500-1000lbs more than they did 20 years ago!

Besides, in my experience a lot of fat people like smaller cars, I see so many obese Mini owners!
If you read the article instead of just the title you would know they said fat people buy those big heavier low milage cars, not that their weight alone is the sole reason. RTFA.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:26 PM   #6
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Correlation != causation.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godmal View Post
This article is absurd. So a fat person that weighs 50-100lbs more than an average person is driving up the price of gas? What about the fact that most cars now are morbidly obese; they weigh 500-1000lbs more than they did 20 years ago!

Besides, in my experience a lot of fat people like smaller cars, I see so many obese Mini owners!
I went to test drive a Fiesta the other day. The salesman was an easy 300 pounds. He barely fit into the car. With him in the car, it couldn't get up to 80mph in 5th gear. I thought it was funny.

But yeah, correlation does not equal causation. Our strange CAFE loop holes and tax breaks for light trucks have caused their rise in number more than fatty demand.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:18 PM   #8
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Where did this data came from? The EPA fuel economy test cycles have changed since back then. Brake specific fuel consumption is WAY down since then with modern fuel injection systems. Vehicles have also gotten heavier because they have to meet much tougher safety standards.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
Correlation != causation.
Yeah, but I would bet my life savings that obese people are driving trucks at a higher rate than the average for the population.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EtoS

If you read the article instead of just the title you would know they said fat people buy those big heavier low milage cars, not that their weight alone is the sole reason. RTFA.
I read the F article doofus. Where's the proof of correlation that fat people buy big cars? Did you RMFP? I said fat people buy Minis. More DSWGs like you buy trucks more likely.
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godmal View Post
I read the F article doofus. Where's the proof of correlation that fat people buy big cars? Did you RMFP? I said fat people buy Minis. More DSWGs like you buy trucks more likely.
No you didn't otherwise you wouldn't try and say that the fatties weight was the reason for the drop in MPG which the article started off saying that wasn't the case. Nice try.

You:
"So a fat person that weighs 50-100lbs more than an average person is driving up the price of gas?"

2nd sentence of article:
"The Washington think tank’s study examined “the unexplored link between the prevalence of overweight and obesity and vehicle demand” for bigger and more gas guzzling cars."

I'm also not argueing the accuracy of the article only what it states.
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ryguy32789 View Post
Yeah, but I would bet my life savings that obese people are driving trucks at a higher rate than the average for the population.
Care to share any data to support your gut feeling? I looked a bit and can't find any such thing.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:39 PM   #13
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I feel that the article is generally correct. If someone is 5'6" and over 200 pounds a narrow car just won't feel good. The thing about our country is our percentage of income spent on food is probably an overall low percentage. In Mexico, someone will spend a greater percentage of there income on food, so they are less inclined to eat more, and I would say that this is the case in most parts of the world.

I've been trying to eat according to the calories I need and I've been saving a ton of money, but man I have been hungry!
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:17 PM   #14
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Makes sense. Fat people take up more space in general and weight is an enemy of fuel economy.

Put down the cheeseburger fatty.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by sgilson View Post
I feel that the article is generally correct. If someone is 5'6" and over 200 pounds a narrow car just won't feel good. The thing about our country is our percentage of income spent on food is probably an overall low percentage. In Mexico, someone will spend a greater percentage of there income on food, so they are less inclined to eat more, and I would say that this is the case in most parts of the world.

I've been trying to eat according to the calories I need and I've been saving a ton of money, but man I have been hungry!
I started counting calories about 4 weeks ago. I'm 5'8", 155lbs, and pretty fit, but I was pretty much treading water in getting that last little bit of fat out because even though I work out 30~45 minutes a day. I was taking in 2200+ calories a day because I would use my exercising to justify eating whatever I wanted. I'm always hungry now.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:53 AM   #16
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While there is probably a grain of truth in this it’s also true that unlike in Asian countries you have people that are routinely over 6’. How many Asians are there in the NFL and NBA? 2?

Yes Americans are fat, yes we need to lose weight but that is not the sole motivating factor for purchasing a larger car. Americans travel and commute a lot, you want a roomy and comfortable car for that. Also I’m guessing it’s the “getting more for your money” syndrome, like COSTCO, super stores, etc. We like a good deal, bigger is better, just ask Texas.

One of the fattest guys I know, easily 300lb and maybe 5’ 9” drives a 2 door Yaris. Go figure.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:54 AM   #17
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We now refer to those people as "American Sized people"

Last edited by Masterauto; 02-16-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:58 AM   #18
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They are definitely ruining car seats.

At this point we may as well go back to bench seats in the front.
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:30 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godmal View Post
This article is absurd. So a fat person that weighs 50-100lbs more than an average person is driving up the price of gas? What about the fact that most cars now are morbidly obese; they weigh 500-1000lbs more than they did 20 years ago!

Besides, in my experience a lot of fat people like smaller cars, I see so many obese Mini owners!
Like someone else said, people of larger builds tend to buy larger vehicles. It makes sense and doesn't need statistics to be verified. That's not to say that smaller people never buy big cars, but hopefully you get the picture. But this excludes cars that are more fashion statements than anything, like Hummer H2s. We should apply this to more mass-produced cars accessible to most people, while attributing the influence of car makers to super-size their vehicles to Americans being fatter than most people. Think about it, Honda and Toyota have American variations of the same cars, even though it wasn't always like that.

But yes, there are fat people who drive smaller cars rather than behemoths. But chances are, those smaller cars are lighter to begin with and have less peppy motors intended for fuel economy, not pulling power. So if you're by yourself, the car moves around just fine, but once there is more load on the engine, it gets a bit more difficult. For example, my girlfriend has a Corolla that she uses for her daily commute from OC to LA, and she'll usually see something like 34-35 mpg. But when we took it to Vegas with four people, it went down to 30-31 mpg. Obviously a fat person doesn't weight the same as four people, but it's like the little car is lugging around a lot more and losing mpg on a constant basis.

And then there are the fat people who buy bigger cars to have more space, and while the car will be able to hustle their fat asses around without breaking a sweat, they're already in a vehicle that probably doesn't do better than 22 mpg.

Also, let's not forget that fat people tend to be warmer than thinner people, so they typically keep the A/C on blast the whole time. Even more load on the engine. My boss is 6'5" and weighs 300 pounds (yes, he's fat, not just tall) and constantly complains about how hot he is, as his car always has the A/C on, and I turn mine on when he rides in my car (though I rarely use it since I'm generally fine). We keep the A/C running at the office while he has a fan on his desk blowing at his face. Meanwhile, everyone else is usually cold at the same time.

Speaking of whom, my boss is really into motorcycles and has four, maybe five bikes. I know one of them is one of those Yamaha Vino scooters that are advertised as getting upwards of 100 mpg, though he said that when he drives it, it's more like 70-80 mpg. While he's definitely consuming much less gas than a car or truck does while riding on it, it's not like he drives it everyday to work. I think it has less than 500 miles on the odometer, and he's had it for at least four years. So again, you can see the impact that weight has.

Quote:
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I went to test drive a Fiesta the other day. The salesman was an easy 300 pounds. He barely fit into the car. With him in the car, it couldn't get up to 80mph in 5th gear. I thought it was funny.
I remember when the SRT-4s first came out, I test drove one, and the salesman was probably not much different in size than yours. He could barely squeeze into it, and I could definitely feel the engine working harder, as I test drove another SRT-4 later that day at another dealership to see what it could really do with half of the weight inside the car. I definitely noticed a difference.
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:44 AM   #20
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There's definately truth to it. Larger people buy larger vehicles in general. We have a lot of fatties in Canada but we are nowhere close to the US as far as obesity goes. Hence the best selling cars in Canada are all compacts not fullsize. There's more to it in regards to our higher taxes and less disposable income but Canadians tend to have similar tastes to Europeans in that we like small hachback cars and even little cars like the Fit.
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:21 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
Care to share any data to support your gut feeling? I looked a bit and can't find any such thing.
I'm not basing this assumption on any hard data, but the first thing that popped into my head was an ad on Craigslist I once saw for a bugeye. The owner stated he recently bought it but was selling it to buy a truck because he was too large to be comfortable in the WRX. Aside from instances I have seen, I'm making a an assertion based on no hard facts.


It would be nice if somebody who works at a full-line manufacturers dealership (ie. Ford or GM, where there are trucks, suvs, and all sizes of car) could chime in on this.
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Old 02-14-2011, 06:50 PM   #22
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It would be nice if somebody who works at a full-line manufacturers dealership (ie. Ford or GM, where there are trucks, suvs, and all sizes of car) could chime in on this.
I worked at a Toyota dealership for a bit under a year around the time when the current Tundras launched. My recollection matches the assumptions that we had regarding the correlation between the size of the drivers and the cars that they ended up purchasing.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:23 AM   #23
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People that are morbidly obese should not need another reason to lose weight... they should just lose it. Dying early not enough? jeeze.

I'm not sure if this article is substantiated in any way but I do know that it will only make obese people say "screw you!, I'll eat what I want" not " OH no... I should eat less and save the environment!"

BTW that girl at the top of this thread would be hot if she lost weight.

-Mike.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:34 AM   #24
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People that are morbidly obese should not need another reason to lose weight... they should just lose it. Dying early not enough? jeeze.
You're right, but that applies to a lot of us even if we're not fat, though it pertains more to diet than weight loss. I'm a pretty fit guy, partially because I jog regularly (though I don't doubt that high metabolism and being naturally smaller, meaning not fat, helps)... but I eat very poorly. So while my relatively small weight (below 140) isn't really impacting my fuel economy or forcing me to buy a Suburban, I probably may have some issues to look into.

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BTW that girl at the top of this thread would be hot if she lost weight.
And I'm sure if she weren't ugly, she'd be pretty haha.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:53 AM   #25
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Sounds like alot of auto manufacturers need to take into account the size of the average american. Mini did this, Subaru did not. My cooper has more front passenger leg and shoulder room than my impreza and my (ex) forester.
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