With gas prices reaching record highs in certain parts of the country, Americans are looking for someone to blame for their pain at the pump. But drivers might not have to look much further than their waistlines to find the real culprit.
That's right, being overweight can lead to higher spending when it comes to gas. This is one of the conclusions drawn by Allstate in a recent blog post by the auto insurer, which highlights how obesity may be taking a toll on vehicle fuel efficiency.
According to a 2010 Consumer Report, cited by Allstate, the increasing weight of American drivers ups our consumption of gas by 1 billion gallons, on average, a year in recent decades. Allstate also cited data from the U.S. Department of Energy, which found that for every additional 100 pounds placed in a car, the vehicle's fuel efficiency is decreased by up to 2 percent.
The bottom line: The more you tow, the more you owe when it comes to paying at the pump.
So how much more to heavy-set people spend on gas?
- The average American drove 13,476 miles in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation
- The average price of gas in 2011 was $3.53, according to the Consumer Energy Report
- A 2011 Toyota Corolla gets 31 miles per gallon on average. Therefore, a Corolla driver would have spent around $1,535 on about 435 gallons of gas in 2011, assuming she drove 13,476 miles
According to Huffington Post calculations, for every 100 pounds in your car, you can expect to add $31.32 to your annual gas bill (assuming you're driving a car that gets an average 31 miles per gallon).
Of course, gas isn't the only thing overweight people pay more for. Obese people pay an extra $1,850 in health costs, on average, per year compared with normal weight people, according to recent research.
Obesity has also cost U.S. companies billions in lost productivity. A 2011 Gallup poll found that overweight or obese workers missed an estimated 450 million additional days of work compared to healthy weight workers. That translated to more than $153 million in lost productivity.
Finances aside, Allstate claims that the increasing weight of American drivers also has direct implications on the car industry. With so much pressure on car manufacturers to keep fuel efficiency high, Allstate claims that the extra pounds are negatively affecting the car industry’s goal to improve fuel efficiency.
(h/t the Chicago Tribune)