We all know the importance of eating well and exercising. Rarely does a week go by without there being story on the news reminding us of the role maintaining a healthy weight plays. These reports generally focus on the stress extra pounds place upon organs in the body such as the heart as well as how it puts you at greater risk for certain diseases such as cancer. It turns out there is another reason that can be added to the list of why it is important to reach and maintain a healthy weight-the odds that you will survive a car accident.

According to a recent study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, this is in large part due to the way that seat belts end up being positioned on the bodies of overweight individuals. Because of the way in which they lay across the body, in a collision, the body which is supposed to be held in place will instead be allowed to move. The study, which relied upon accident data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reveals that cars may not provide an adequate level of safety to overweight occupants even when they test well for those in a healthy weight range.

Perhaps not surprisingly the study found a direct correlation between the risk of death and the weight of the person involved in the crash. Those involved in car accidents whose weight places them in the category of a BMI of more than 39 face an 80 percent greater risk of dying as compared to those with BMIs deemed to be in the “normal” range.

With the weight issues so many are currently facing throughout the United States, the study’s findings are certainly worth noting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that more than a third of adults throughout the nation are at a weight that falls into the obese category. This usually translates into greater expense for all in the country.

Source: Reuters, “Obese Drivers up to 80% More Likely to Die in Car Crashes,” Mark Chalon Smith, Jan. 31, 2013