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Your Fat Is Driving Up Your Gas Bill

Simple physics: It takes more energy to move heavier things. You’ll be shocked when you realize how much of the gas we use is just because of America’s obesity problem.

The other day, I discovered that I had been driving around in my car for at least a week with a giant bag of potting soil in the trunk. During this same week, local gas prices climbed to nearly $5 per gallon. How much fuel efficiency (and cash), I wondered, did I lose on this potting soil oversight? It’s not something that most people think about often, but weight is an important factor in fuel efficiency. The infographic below, courtesy of The Allstate Blog, delves further into the relationship between obesity and fuel efficiency.

It’s no secret that obesity rates are growing in the U.S. Now, over a third of adults in the country are obese. If you don’t believe that this is a fairly new phenomenon, check out the map above. According to Allstate, 1 billion gallons of gasoline each year can be attributed to passenger weight gain in non-commercial vehicles between 1960 and 2002.

There is some seemingly good news. New fuel economy standards will require new cars and light-duty trucks to have a fuel economy of 54.5 MPG by 2025, which should alleviate the problem somewhat.

Automakers are working to decrease vehicle weight and comply with the new regulations using a number of tactics, including the use of high-strength, low-weight steel and lightweight aluminum. But if obesity trends continue, it won’t be enough. Fuel efficiency standards will undoubtedly make a difference no matter what, but their impact will have been lessened.

Check out the full infographic below.