Photo: Brian Wallace
Fact: Americans are, on average, fatter than ever before.
Fact: Gasoline prices in the United States have been higher than ever before.
What does all the extra weight have to do with how much we’re spending at the pump?
According to a study done by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the average American today is around 24 pounds heavier than the average American was in 1960. In practical terms, this means that today’s cars are hauling around more human poundage than cars did 46 years ago. The heavier a car or truck is, the more gas it burns to get us from place to place.
Now, it’s true that today’s engines are more fuel efficient than they were in the 60s, and cars are built from lighter materials; however, when the researchers took this into consideration they still found that the more we weigh overall, the more gas we guzzle.
The numbers are pretty stark! According to the study, Americans would pump around one billion fewer gallons of gas if the national weight average was what it was in 1960. As it stands, those additional 24 pounds that the average American has packed on in the past half century translates to about 2.2 billion extra dollars spent on gas every year.
All of which provides yet one more incentive for slimming down. Losing weight could help people save money by cutting down on how much gas they use. Plus, the less gas burned, the fewer exhaust emissions there are to pollute the atmosphere. Finally, buying less gas lowers the demand, which, over time, could lead to lower prices at the pump.